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Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

A funny thing occurred to me the other week while having a conversation with my mom. Often times we discuss food, as many people probably do, but during our conversation she had stated that she made something really delicious the other day and both her…

Khao Jee – Laotion Sandwich

Khao Jee – Laotion Sandwich

I love a good sandwich, and I’ll admit I don’t eat them as often as I like. I’m a sucker for a Vietnamese banh mi, even a dagwood, but there is one that I think needs more attention. This Laotion sandwich is known as Khao…

Sinamak – Filipino Spiced Vinegar

Sinamak – Filipino Spiced Vinegar

The idea of vinegar, and probably more so the idea of ‘acidity’ was never really something that I grew up with. I remember it (I think) being used sparingly with cooked brussel sprouts (something I did not like at all), and that is about it. I do however remember having a simple vinegar dip  at my in-laws house when I was dating my wife. We were eating lumpia (Filipino egg roll) and I noticed my father-in-law taking little spoonfuls of the vinegar sauce. Minced garlic, white vinegar, and black pepper were the only ingredients, and BOOM it was a game changer.

As I grew into (and continue to) knowing a bit more about Filipino food, I began to realize how important, and how awesome the Filipino culture used vinegar in day-to-day recipes. Adobo is a perfect example, and a complete game changer for your recipe rotation if you have never tried it.  This is another game changer but an elevated vinegar, similar to the lumpia dipping vinegar sauce, but amplified.  It’s called Sinamak. Learn it. Love it. Get ready.

Filipino Spiced Vinegar - Sinamak
Filipino Spiced Vinegar – Sinamak

This one is another one that is way to easy to make, yields a lot, lasts a long time, and is just too darn delicious.

Let’s get started. P.S. I know this recipe varies in different provinces in the Philippines, but here is my version in the state of Wisconsin.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups white vinegar or cane vinegar (Dati Puti found in Asian market)
  • 15-20 whole Thai chilies, cleaned, thinly sliced
  • 2 inch nub of ginger, cleaned, cut into coins
  • 1 whole head of garlic, cloves only, sliced
  • 1 tbsp whole black peppercorns
  • 1 large clean jar or bottle

Easy breezy. Start by preparing all of your ingredients.

Sinamak - Filipino Spiced Vinegar
Sinamak – Filipino Spiced Vinegar

I like to use a glass jar as it is easier to load everything into, but I do prefer the bottle as it looks better and is easier to pour out. Regardless, it doesn’t matter to me because the end result is pretty amazing.

Add everything to the jar (or bottle), tighten to cover the lid, and give several good shakes, like you would be shaking a martini or something.

Let this mixture set on the counter, or in the refrigerator (that is where I store mine) for at least 2-3 days before getting into it.

When you ready to use, remove, uncover, and pour a bit (a bit goes a long way) into a small serving bowl.

Use alongside things like grilled meats, fish, or egg rolls. Heck, I’ve drizzled this on rice, omelettes, and a variety of other random things.  Let’s just say this is a total turn on to me, and is a great Filipino sauce. Have you tried Filipino spiced vinegar, and if so, what are your thoughts? Like it, Love it, Dislike it?

Thai Tamarind Dipping Sauce

Thai Tamarind Dipping Sauce

Whenever I have Thai food on my mind, I personally always lean towards a couple of items; laap (larb) or som tam (papaya salad) and both with sticky rice of course. However I seem to always want to perfect pad thai, even though I am…

Detroit Style Pizza

Detroit Style Pizza

Pizza is something I talk about a lot. I know that at least once a week I say it out loud, either to myself or others. ‘I could eat pizza everyday’. I love everything about it. Pizza, and tacos could make this guy happy any…

Apple and Cinnamon Baklava

Apple and Cinnamon Baklava

I don’t know what the hell has came over me lately. For nearly the last 12 months I have been in need of, or have a huge desire to consume desserts. It’s blowing my mind a bit. I never used to really even think about desserts. I wouldn’t think about eating them, ordering them, or making them. My guess is that I only began making desserts because of my love for my wife and kids and their desire to eat something sweet. Now… Me? I hate to say it but I’m kind of hooked and I’m ready to give up this habit, but I will admit that I almost feel like why the heck didn’t I indulge a bit in years past? I can’t believe how great a bite or two of sweets really can be up until now!

So I was on the move recently. The move to using up as many apples as I could before my wife and kid(s) ate them all up from our recent adventure at the orchard for apple picking. We are now down to only a handful of apples, which is great in terms of the ‘apple a day’ (granted it has not kept my doctor away), and thankfully I was able to grab a few apples and come up with a great take on a fall dessert.

Apple and Cinnamon Baklava Recipe
Apple and Cinnamon Baklava Recipe

This recipe doesn’t get much more simple. Butter, phyllo, apples, cinnamon, sugar. C’mon. If the smells don’t get you, the phyllo dough will. I will pretty much guarantee it.

Ingredients:

  • 1 roll phyllo dough, thawed
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 cups of apples, skinned, diced into bite sized cubes
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon powder
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsalted almonds, crushed
  • Additional butter for baking dish

For the Syrup:

  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Butter the bottom, and sides of a 13 x 9 baking dish. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

Make the syrup by adding the syrup ingredients to a pot. Bring to a light boil, reduce heat to low and cook, while stirring, for about 3-4 minutes. Remove from the heat to let cool.

In a mixing bowl, add the apples, cinnamon, brown sugar, salt, and almonds. Give this a good mix.

Lay a sheet of phyllo on the baking sheet. Lightly brush with the melted butter. Add another phyllo sheet on top, and butter that. Do this two more times for four sheets total.

Take 1/2 of the apple mixture and layer it on the phyllo, lightly spreading it out to cover the sheet.

Apple and Cinnamon Baklava Recipe
Apple and Cinnamon Baklava Recipe

Repeat with the phyllo and butter, four more sheets, then the remaining apple mixture. Cover the top with 6 additional sheets of phyllo, buttering each layer.

Gently press the top of the phyllo to just gently compress. If you want to trim any edges to make things look pretty, go ahead. I don’t. Cut the baklava into diamond shapes, or rectangles, the preference is yours.

Place in the preheated oven and cook for 1 hour or up to 75 minutes. The baklava should be a nice golden brown. Once golden, remove from the oven and immediately pour the syrup over the entire baklava. Ensure that the syrup gets into all of the cut baklava.

Apple and Cinnamon Baklava Recipe
Apple and Cinnamon Baklava Recipe

Let the baklava cool to room temperature. Just to note, the longer it rests, the better. Dig in. Keep in mind this will be nice and moist with a tad of that flakiness that you love from that phyllo. It’s delicious however you slice it.

This is like apple pie on steroids. It’s everything (and more) you love about baklava, but simply enhanced to make it even more of an excellent sweet treat. Hope you enjoy!