It is indeed the time of good cheer because Christmas is here! For us Filipinos, this yuletide season is one of the exciting occasions wherein we make the celebrations remarkably special. According to some sociologists, Christmas is widely and extraordinarily celebrated in the Philippines because it is an event that is also considered a festival—and as Filipino culture would have it, festivals are habitually grand and lavish.
Such custom is evident from our long celebration of the season and the way we actually prepare for the Noche Buena on Christmas Eve. Our natural propensity for gift-giving, on the other hand, is related to our world-renowned trait of warm hospitality. No wonder we are ranked as the friendliest nation in Asia, and among the friendliest in the world. All of these make up the uniquely Paskong Pinoy that we experience every year.
Christmas is Festive!
Speaking of this grandiose celebration, and with our people being passionate about food and cooking, Christmas is the time of the year when most families’ dining tables are filled with so much delectable and mouthwatering dishes. According to Panlasang Pinoy, common dishes served during Christmas Eve are the top ten (10) of morcon, embutido, crispy pata, kaldereta, paella, bibingka, pancit Malabon, leche flan, buko salad, and fruit salad3.
But aside from these banquet items, it is also less likely that hams and queso de bola are lacking from the Filipino spread, as these are also trademark food during Christmas. Even if we do not really intend to buy such seasonal staples, family members who work at private companies are often gifted by their employers either of the two delicious treats—if not both.
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These fine foods, however, are never just mere displays. Filipinos are known to be creative with their Christmas spreads, adding some tweaks traditional ways of serving them, to make them always interesting. Instead of the usual glazing or roasting of ham, and the slicing of queso de bola as fitting wine bites, we can use them to create once-a-year specialties.
Introducing here are some appetizing eats and dishes, and their recipes, that you can experiment on this holiday season.
1. Christmas Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Filipinos are known to have rice as our staple food. Nevertheless, in place of such source of carbohydrate, most of us choose to eat alternatives such as sandwiches. During this holiday season, we can make our usual sandwich servings extra special by using the delicious Christmas ham and queso de bola as ingredients.
For the Christmas-inspired grilled cheese sandwich, all you need is just 20 minutes: 5 minutes of preparation and 15 minutes of cooking. The ingredients needed are the following:
• 2 sliced large tomatoes
• Sliced queso de bola, with thickness to your liking
• Thinly sliced ham
• ½ cup of mayonnaise
• Tasty bread of your preference
Below is the step-by-step procedure:
- In preparation, sprinkle small amount of salt to the sliced tomatoes for seasoning. Set it aside to penetrate.
- In a heated frying pan, spread enough amount of margarine (to serve as oil ingredient) and place the slices of ham. Let each side crisp but do not overcook.
- Transfer the ham crusts in paper towel to dry the oil.
- Spread each bread loaf with mayonnaise, then put them in the pan dialed on medium heat.
- Place thin amount of mayonnaise, one slice of queso de bola, ham crust, tomato, and again a slice of queso de bola on top of the bread loaf.
- When the cheese melts, cover it with another bread loaf with mayonnaise on the top side, then flip the whole sandwich to cook that side. Flip back and forth until both sides turned golden brown, and ta-da, your grilled cheese sandwich for noche buena!
The advantage of using queso de bola as your cheese ingredient is that you can adjust the thickness of each slice to your liking, unlike when using standard cheeses whose slices or proportions are of a default size. For sure, the whole family will drool over this luscious treat!
2. Honey-Smeared Christmas Wrapped Ham
Let the twist kick in your usual office-supplied ham by making the extra effort of embellishing it with sweet and mouthwatering ingredients. The ingredients needed for this recipe are as follows:
• One whole Christmas ham of your preference
• 3 packs of 400 grams bacon
• ½ cup of water
• Brown sugar.
If you have two hours’ preparation time to spare, bear with us and soon enough you can indulge in this luscious dish for your Christmas meal!
- Set the oven at 325 F and pre-heat.
- Cut the whole ham into two halves, side down. Do cross hatches on each ham’s top. Set aside in the oven tray filled with ½ cup of water.
- Unpack the bacon and start weaving them into two covers, the size of each must be enough to coat each half of the ham.
- Place the weaved bacon over each half of the ham. Put toothpicks on the sides so that the cover will not fall of the ham.
- Heat in the oven for 15-20 minutes per half of the ham. Do not cover.
- Glaze the meshed bacon with generous amount of honey, and sprinkle with small amount of brown sugar, for additional texture and flavor.
- Remove the coated ham from the oven and remove the toothpicks as well.
Voila! Your sweet-flavored and scrumptious wrapped ham is ready!
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The pandemic might have brought disarray to our customary way of living, but on the brighter side, it has opened new doors and possibilities of how we can make and accomplish things more meaningfully and fruitfully, just like the above staple treats which can be turned into more scrumptious and savory eats. These new ways of creating more colorful Christmas delicacies go along well with strengthening our bond with our family members and loved ones, with whom we will all be spending this year’s holidays more closely and intimately.
But to completely appreciate the whole process, we will need stable internet access since the full recipes and preparations procedure—as well as other delicacies and even other cuisines that we may be interested to explore—are all available online. The last thing you’d want is to delay this festive quality-time with the family because of a faulty connection.
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