Bibingka (Filipino Coconut Rice Cake)

They don’t call themselves foodies. Maybe ’cause they’re not overly obsessed with food or where it comes from. They’re just friends who for the past 3 years have been living a tradition that revolves around food, but is not consumed by it. Every Sunday, during the summer, they get together at the beach for dinner and a bonfire. I would call it more of a mini feast than a dinner, but I’m sure  they would just call it a good time.

They met in kindergarten, among first day jitters and mixed emotions, as they were dropping off their children at school. The next thing you know they were organizing bike rides, a year later camping in the spring, and finally bonfires at the beach. Whether their kids became friends first or they did, it doesn’t really matter, they’ve been friends ever since.

A friend of mine introduced us during sausage night at the beach. I was greeted sincerely and candidly, giving meaning to the phrase ” Any friend of —- is a friend of ours.” I was surprised to find fire roasted German sausages, sauerkraut, hot mustard, spicy gumbo, juicy watermelon, stinky cheese, and artisan bread. We were surrounded by kids of all ages playing in the sand, taking a dip in the cold ocean, and generally having a good time. The adults stood around the picnic table ate and talked about their latest parenting “adventure” and the gossip and news surrounding their kids’ classroom. The munchkin and I had such a great time, that since then we’ve been at the beach almost every Sunday.

One of my favorite Sundays was French night. There was escargot dripping in garlic butter, mussels steamed in wine and herbs, a tart of ripe peaches, and lightly dressed salad. The food is different each week and as varied as their mixture of nationalities and professions: Cuban, Mexican, French, Guamanian, Filipino, American, teacher, biologist, chef, and data base administrator, just to name a few.

After a couple of Sundays attending the bonfires I came to realize that their common bond is not their love of food, as I once thought, it is the love they have for their kids. This is why I think they unknowingly hold the secret to gastronomical perfection. The secret is not in the ingredients, their source, their preparation, or presentation. It is in the act of sharing a meal with loved ones, as simple as it may be, that you can reach true perfection. Just as this group of friends, Sunday after Sunday, continue to strengthen their bond around a table, as it has been done for thousands of centuries before them.


Bibingka 

Yield: 8-10 Servings

Cook time: 1hr 15min.

Ingredients:

Fine Rice Four1 lb (16oz)
Baking powder1 tsp.
Salt, kosher1 pinch
Butter, unsalted, room temperature8 tbsp + 2 tbsp
Eggs, large4 ea.
Milk1.5 cups
Coconut milk1.5 Cups
Sugar, granulated2 cups
Vanilla, extract1 tbsp.
Coconut, shredded, toasted½ cup

 

Preparation:

  • Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9 x 13 baking pan with 2 tbsp. of butter.
  • In a medium bowl combine rice flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer cream the remaining 8 tbsp. of  butter and the sugar using the paddle attachment, until the mixture is light and fluffy.
  • Incorporate the eggs one at a time to the creamed butter.
  • Add half of the flour mixture, to the butter mix, and then pour in coconut milk. Mix until fully incorporated.
  • Add remaining flour, milk, and vanilla extract.  Mix until fully incorporated.
  • Pour mixture into pan and bake for about 1 hr. and 15 min. or until golden brown.

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