Sir Mix-Mix A-Lot

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My first memory of devouring halo-halo (pronounced hollow-hollow, and Tagalog for “mix-mix”) was at an early age at Magic Wok, a Filipino restaurant in L.A. close to where I grew up. (The restaurant is luckily still around, but it’s now called Crispy House, I highly recommend checking it out if you’re ever in L.A.) The food was soooo good; the best Filipino food I’ve ever had–crispy pata (fried pork belly), Shanghai lumpiang (Chinese-style deep-fried egg rolls), chicken adobo (braised chicken in herbs, vinegar and soy sauce), pancit bihon (stir-fried rice noodles), and of course, the house special halo-halo, a shaved ice/ice cream dessert with milk, Spanish flan, and various beans. Yes, beans. As in, frijoles.

the inspo: Halo-halo at Magic Wok circa 2012

the inspo: Halo-halo at Magic Wok circa 2012

Anthony Bourdain tried it for the first time on his show, Parts Unknown, and described it as, “It makes no goddam sense at all; I like it,”  and “it’s oddly beautiful.”

The standout part of halo-halo is the bright purple scoop of ice cream gracing the top of the ice-cold glass, called ube, a naturally-hued purple yam. Yes, yam. Yes, it’s purple. And it’s delicious.

Alone the beans, milk, ice cream, flan, shaved ice, and chunks of jackfruit and various jellies, are odd, but once mix-mixed, the blend of savory, sweet, creamy, caramel and sometimes tangy work perfectly well together. It actually works.

The key to enjoying halo-halo to its fullest is doing exactly what its name asks: mix! And mix! Use a long spoon to mix all the layers of ingredients together.

I haven’t had legit halo-halo in a few years, but during a recent trip to the local Asian market, I stumbled upon a quart of Magnolia’s Ube ice cream. I quickly added it to my basket and enjoyed it at home. I wanted to recreate the halo-halo that reminds me of the ones I had at Magic Wok with my family. Here’s my take on Filipino halo-halo, with homemade ube ice cream and Spanish-style flan!

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FOR THE ICE CREAM

Ube Ice Cream
Yields about 2 quarts
Recipe slightly adapted from Rot In Rice

INGREDIENTS
16 ounces (1 package) ube, grated purple yam*
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup coconut milk
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 Tablespoons Kosher salt
(*Cook’s Note: Ube/grated purple yam can be found at your local Asian market.)

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METHOD
If your ube is uncooked (as most are in the package) steam it in a double boiler for about 20-30 minutes.

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Carefully remove the cooked ube and mash it with a fork.

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In a large sauce pot, heat the sugar and milks over medium-low heat till just-summering. Add in the mashed ube and mix till completely incorporated.

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Place the mixture into a blender or stick blender and purée till smooth. Mix in the heavy cream and salt.

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Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve to remove the grainy bits. Discard those bits. Place the ice cream base into the refrigerator for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.

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Place the ice cream base into your ice cream maker bowl, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

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Enjoy!

FOR ASSEMBLING THE HALO-HALO

Halo-Halo
Serves 4

INGREDIENTS
Spanish flan (recipe HERE)
Ube ice cream (recipe above)
1 can evaporated milk
4 cups crushed or shaved ice
1 jar Halo-Halo mix*
(Cook’s Note: Halo-Halo mix can be found at your local Asian market.)

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METHOD
Gather 4 sundae or chalice glasses (I used a tulip-style one). Add a scoop of the ice in each, then add a layer of the halo-halo mix.

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Layer on another scoop of ice and halo-halo mix after that till you reach about 1/3 to the rim.

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Cut the flan into quarters and place a wedge on the top of each glass with 1-2 scoops of ube ice cream. Top with enough evaporated milk to cover a 1/4 to the rim.

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General Custard

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This Spanish-style flan recipe is super easy to make. I love using this recipe to accompany this Filipino Halo-Halo dessert recipe.

Spanish Flan
Serves 4
Recipe slightly adapted from AllRecipes.com

INGREDIENTS
1 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
1, 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup whole milk
kettle of boiling water

METHOD
Preheat your own to 350 degrees F. Place your ramekins (or whatever vessel you’ll be cooking your flans in) into the oven on a sheet tray to warm up.

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Heat a medium-sized sauce pan to medium-low, then add the sugar until it’s caramelized and brown.

While your sugar heats up, mix together the eggs and milks in a large bowl until well combined. Set aside.

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When the sugar becomes syrupy, turn off the heat and immediately pour into your warming ramekins.

(Cook’s Note: Heating the ramekins beforehand helps the caramel maintain its heat and not harden immediately.)

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Carefully pour the custard mixture into the filled ramekins. Then place the ramekins into a large, shallow ovenproof pan. Fill the pan with the boiling water about 1-inch from the base of the ramekin. Cover with foil and place into the oven for 40 minutes.

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Check for doneness, then allow to cool completely. When serving, completely trace the outside of the flan with a knife and then invert the ramekin onto a serving plate.

The Little Lowboy That Could

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I’ve been really getting into the whole DIY-decor movement lately, thanks to my amazing interior designer friend, Mel, who I work design jobs with frequently.

A few weeks ago while I was working with Mel, we were driving back from a shopping venture for a client, and I complained how I have been looking arduously for the perfect vintage-style lowboy dresser to no avail. And then, two blocks later, Mel pointed to the street, “Look!” and there it was, like the heavens had heard my prayers–an abandoned lowboy dresser.

We immediately pulled the truck over. And then I exclaimed,
“And I want 100-million dollars and a hot young boyfriend!”

(Can’t knock a girl for trying, eh?)

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The dresser, clearly in bad shape, was an icky deep grape purple color with dated drawer pulls and scratches all over. The top of the dresser was warped and disconnected from the rest of the piece, and the inside of the drawers were lined with a 1960s-style floral print. But what made the dresser so beautiful to us was the base; it was clearly one-of-a-kind.

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It had beautiful bones and I wanted to take it home. At the risk of sounding cliché: One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, right?

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So Mel and I loaded up her truck (thank god she has a truck!) and headed to my apartment to drop of my little orphan lowboy.

A few days later, I headed to the hardware store and picked up some supplies: a roller, angled paintbrush, tinted primer, a water-based semi-gloss paint from Benjamin Moore (Caribbean Azure) and some plastic floor linings in case of spillage. My friend, Chris let me borrow his power-sander, so I immediately got to work on sanding down the entire dresser.

After removing most of the paint and sanding out the rough edges, I wiped off the excess paint residue bits and put on a coat of the tinted primer. (My paint guy and I decided it was the best bet for me to achieve the color I wanted, as the former base color was very dark.)

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I let the primer dry overnight and then got to work on putting on the base coat. I used the roller mostly, and touched up the hard-to-reach spots with the angled paintbrush. I allowed the paint to dry overnight before adding the second coat. After painting on the second (and luckily, final!) coat, I allowed it to dry one more night.

After Mel’s recommendation, I headed down to Hippo Hardware, this super rad three-story building that houses hundreds of vintage hardware pieces: from drawer pulls, vintage doorknobs, porcelain bathtubs, and lighting fixtures. (If you didn’t already know: Hippo Hardware is also the site of the infamous scene in the Jackass movie where Dave England goes inside the store and takes a dump in one of the vintage toilets on display.)

Anyway, the store has an entire section with drawers and boxes full of vintage drawer pulls. I knew I wanted them gold ’cause how well the blue and gold would look together. After scouring through every box of pulls they had, I finally found 13 gold, mid-century, hexagon-shaped pulls. They were GORGEOUS! Finding the same type of drawer pull wasn’t an easy task, but I was thrilled when I found these. I needed two more pulls and found a pair of contrasting yet cute gold pieces.

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I then headed to Target to grab some cleaning supplies, wood surface cleaner, and snagged a roll of Con-Tact paper to line the insides of the drawers. The print I found was adorable, and contrasted well with the color of the dresser.

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After thoroughly cleaning the inside of the dresser, the drawers, and lining the insides of the drawers, I put in the new drawer pulls. It turned out PERFECTLY. I’m so happy with the result, and the final price tag: $104! Not too shabby for a vintage dresser found on the side of the road, huh?

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