"Kusina" = Kitchen; "Manang" = older sister

A Filipina's unabashed chronicle of her adaptations in the American kitchen. Includes step-by-step photos on how to make pan de sal, ensaymada, pan de coco, siopao, hopia, pandelimon, pianono, atsara, crema de fruta,etc., and if you are lucky, you will find videos too!

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Baking & Cooking

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Friday, February 27, 2015

BIKO with PIRURUTONG - Manang's version

BIKO with Pirurutong (Sweet Black Rice)
I made sweet black rice SOAP recently using the rice washing of pre-soaked pirurutong (black rice). For the strained soaked sweet black rice itself, I added that to the white sweet rice and made biko with just a slight hint of sweetness. Approved by my sons.

This is my (Manang's) version using the coconut products I usually have at home. Please note that this is not using all pirurutong. Rather, I used a little pirurutong to add texture to the typical biko made with sweet white rice.

3 handfuls of sweet black rice (pirurutong), soaked in plain water overnight, then drained - amount depends on how much you want; this will not get as soft as white rice, but will give a contrast in texture; a bit chewy
3 cups sweet white rice
1 can coconut milk

Cook as you would regular rice in the rice cooker. How much water you add will depend if you want the white rice to still be whole or almost paste-like. We like them almost paste-like.

3 T coconut oil
1/2 to 1 cup brown sugar (or coconut crystals if you have that. I have run out.)

Once done cooking, melt some VCO (virgin coconut oil) in a pan. Around 3 T will be good (you may want to increase to make sure you coat your biko nicely. Coconut oil is healthy anyway.) Mix well. Sprinkle brown sugar onto the rice as you mix. Taste and keep adding until it is sweet enough to your taste. Pack into a baking pan (8x10 or 8x8 depending on how thick you want it).

TOPPING INGREDIENTS (double if you want thicker coat of topping; I just winged this. You can, too. And you can taste first before you pour on top):
3 T of brown sugar (or coconut crystal)
3 T coconut cream concentra (aka coconut butter)
3 T water (or enough to melt the brown sugar and incorporate the cream to make a nice consistency like syrup)
Mix water and sugar first. Add the coconut cream and mix with a whisk to make smoother. Does not have to be smooth; just need to break up the coconut cream concentrate.
Once pourable like syrup, distribute evenly over the top of the biko. It does not matter if you have spots that have no covering, since the coconut cream concentrate will melt like oil and the sugar also will caramelize and melt with the heat.
Broil on low for 15 mins.
For more pics and details, click on the following album:

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Coconut Creamed Tocino Pork Roast

Coconut Creamed Tocino Pork Roast
I have been busy preparing for a craft fair in Skowhegan. This might be my first big (kinda) craft fair to attend. I have been making and applying labels on my products. As such, I had to think of a dish that I can sort of start and forget...for a long while.

I had this pork roast completely thawed in the fridge, about 3-4 pounds. Fits well in my small crockpot. I was also craving for tocino...and was imagining a fork-tender pork tocino, but I saw this leftover coconut milk sitting in the fridge for a few days now (I used about 1/4 cup in a prior dish, and I was afraid it would get sour soon).

Crossing my fingers, I whipped up a recipe in my head using tocino mix and the coconut milk. When I finally tasted the final sauce, it was heavenly! Both hubby and son approved it!

Easy-peasy and OH SO YUMMY!

Pork roast 3-4 lbs
1 packet tocino mix
salt to taste
turmeric to taste (optional; I like adding turmeric to anything that would look nice yellowish or orange-ish in color, plus I love its health benefits.)
Coconut milk (1 can is good, although I used less than 1 can's leftover)
Potato Starch or Arrowroot flour for thickening (about 1 Tbsp or 2)
(Suggested spice if making this is the star anise.)

With the pork roast in a slow cooker ceramic insert, sprinkle all around with the tocino mix, making sure it is coated well. Cover and turn slow cooker on to low setting and leave alone for 8 hours, or to high setting and leave alone for 4 hours. The pork roast will render its juice, about 2 cups or less. Meanwhile, do your chores.

At the end of cooking time, keep slowcooker on warm setting, transfer to roast to a plate, then transfer the rendered juice into a small saucepan. Place the roast back in the slow cooker and keep warm and covered.

Separate about 1/4 cup of the juice and place that in a small cup and set aside to cool down a bit. Boil the remaining juice in the saucepan. Shake the can of coconut milk well, then pour the contents into the saucepan and mix well. Let boil about 5 mins or until coconut milk has become creamy instead of tasting like fresh coconut. Add turmeric powder if using. Adjust taste with salt.

Transfer the pork roast onto a platter and pour the sauce over. Enjoy with mashed potatoes or rice, with boiled and creamed green peas or green beans.
Fork tender!

Friday, October 10, 2014

My MIL shared a piece with me. I loved it. She share the recipe with me, which was originally a Rhubarb Sour Cream Cake. I used homemade butter, and home-ripened (soured) cream instead of store-bought sour cream. I added 1/2 t almond extract to the recipe as well, lessened the sugar.

My husband is not a big fan of desserts/cakes with blueberries. But he LOVED this so much he had at least 3 servings after the first bite. I baked this last night.

I had to bake another batch today. My sons loved it too and I brought some to work. Needless to say my co-workers loved it too.

Blueberry sour cream cake has quickly become a fave in our home...not gluten-/wheat-free, though...

Ingredients and Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Grease your baking pan.

Mix together wet ingredients:
1.5 c sugar (I did not fill the measuring cups)
1/2 c melted butter
1 cup sour cream
1 egg
1 t vanilla
1/2 t almond extract

In a separate bowl, mix together dry ingredients:
2 cups flour
1 t baking soda

Mix together the wet and dry ingredients.

Add 1.5 cups frozen blueberries.

Sprinkle the topping:
1/2 c brown sugar
1 T cinnamon
Bake for 35 to 45 mins. Cover with paper towel when cooling.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Orange-Maple Chicken

Orange-Maple Chicken

I seldom update my foodblog now (although I have been more regularly posting on fb).  But this chicken recipe was a big hit, even to my hubby who usually does not like soy-sauce-rich marinades for meats.  We liked it so much we have had it twice within a month.
Perfect to eat with either mashed potatoes or "hasselback" potatoes (sliced thinly except for the bottom part, drizzled with bacon fat, then sprinkled with kosher salt).

Hasselback Potatoes

2 cups orange juice
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup maple syrup
3 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
2 T olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp black pepper
4 to 5 lbs cut up chicken
arrowroot (or cornstarch) dissolved in water to thicken sauce

Combined everything in a covered 8x13 baking dish and marinate for at least 3 hours or overnight.
Bake at 400ºF for one hour. (If baking hasselback potatoes, bake them at the same time).
Take the pan out, dish out the sauce from the pan and transfer to a saucepan. (Keep the potatoes in the oven.)
Place the pan back into the oven. Meanwhile, thicken the sauce with the arrowroot-water mixture. (You may want to thicken only a little bit. You can use the rest of the marinade for stir-frying later, or re-use to marinate.)
Set the oven to low broil, baste chicken pieces with thickened sauce, broil for 2 mins, flip over, and baste the other side and broil another 2 mins.
Serve with the sauce in condiment cups for dipping chicken pieces.
(I actually also baked Honey Whole Wheat Loaf at the same time, during the last 30 mins. It takes some planning, but I had to start the dough earlier.)

If you have LEFTOVERS (though I doubt it)...shred the meat to bite size pieces. Sautee cut up veggies (ex.: bell peppers, celery, summer squash, thinly sliced carrots, etc.) in a little bit of butter or ghee. Add the chicken pieces, then pour the thickened sauce over. Instant stir-fry delight!

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Raffle Giveaway for 1 Qt Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil

Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil - 32 oz.
Win 1 quart of Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil!

UPDATE: This raffle has ended and the winner is Chuchi A.  Congratulations!

Please use the Rafflecopter to join in the raffle. Raffle ends on April 3rd at 12 midnight. Open only to US and Canada residents.

Please click Manang Kusinera or Kusina Ni Manang to "Like" me on facebook. Thanks!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose.  Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product.

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Yogurt Lemon Salad Dressing

Yogurt Marinade and Yogurt-Lemon Dressing
It all started when I began eating more real foods and less junk (processed "foods"). Yogurt is one of those probiotic-rich foods that I added in my homemade arsenals. I buy the plain nonfat or 1.5% fat yogurt (Stonyfield) from time to time as my culture starter, then I make several batches using whole raw milk (which I get for free).  It's so easy to make when you have a dehydrator that doubles as low-heat oven.  In my search to eliminate store-bought dressings, and in wanting to use up the sour plain yogurt (homemade, which I could not eat by itself until I realized it tasted like mild vinegar), a light bulb went off in my head and I searched for a recipe for a dressing that uses yogurt.

This one is my go-to dressing now. I got it from the internet (allrecipes, I believe).  And while I have been using this for months on my salads, my son#1 only tried it last Saturday when I brought it (along with other store-bought dressings) to my BIL's birthday (we were instructed to bring our own because they only had blue cheese).  My son#1 got hooked and requested that I get more salads so he could have it again.  And so we did last night, with him making the dressing because we only had a small amount of the remaining batch.

I do make my yogurt now Greek-style (whey drained from it) so our dressing is thicker, and I prefer the use of expeller-pressed coconut oil (EPCO) instead of olive oil (I still have EVOO in my kitchen), as it is yummy yet does not have a coconut-y taste.

This dressing was adapted from epicurious. I followed everything except I added more herbs from my garden and I used EVOO instead of avocado or canola oil. I am not ever going to use con-ola oil.

salmon marinated in yogurt; yogurt dressing on salad
My plate of salad greens
with yogurt dressing
and yogurt-marinated
  • 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 tsp basil (optional)
  • 1 tsp chives, snipped (optional)
  • 1/4 cup EVOO, or VCO or EPCO
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • Fine sea salt to taste
This is so wonderful on salads!
By this time, I have made countless batches of this dressing. Perfect replacement for the starch-laden vinegary (not good in fighting Candida) and sugary dressings available in the supermarkets, which uses the most unhealthy oils from highly processed soybean or canola.

I would like to thank my friend, Cecilia, for her birthday gift for me last year, the Microplane Herb Mill, which I use a lot for this purpose.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Canning: Pizza Sauce

Homemade Pizza Sauce and Homemade Mozzarella
I have several friends who work in the Backyard Farms, a greenhouse based in Madison, ME that produces fresh tomatoes year-round. Two of them gave me tomatoes, totaling 2&1/2 boxes. I used some fresh, and before they turned bad, I thought of canning them as pizza sauce (it used to be that, when I made pizza at home, I would buy a jar of pizza sauce, which we often found inferior).  We also bought shredded mozzarella and other toppings.

Since I have been making mozzarella cheese with fresh cow's milk, I thought I should also make our own pizza sauce. I picked a recipe that had rave reviews from food.com. It was the first time when we had our supper last night that we used it for homemade pizza.  It received high praises from my greatest critic (my husband), saying that it was even better than our favorite store-bought pizza (freshly baked pizza from Al's Pizza).  That is, after I added 1/4 tsp to the pint of pizza sauce after I had hubby taste it before spreading onto the pizza dough. He even reminded me that I should keep the recipe.

Almost all of the ingredients in the recipe can be grown or were grown in my garden (with lemon juice as my exception...unless I become successful in growing Meyer's lemon, at least; I also bought the celery seeds, but will try growing celery this year).  As for the sugar, I replaced it with honey, which came from my SIL who does beekeeping.

So, for purposes of "keeping the recipe," I am posting it here the way I made it (no photos of the early stages of making it).


25-28 tomatoes
2 large onions, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 T olive oil
2 T lemon juice
1 tsp pepper
1 T honey
2 T parsley
1 T oregano
1 T basil
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp celery seeds
1 T salt
1/2 tsp summer savory


Cut the tomatoes in half and place in large roasting pans.  Add the onions and garlic cloves.  Drizzle the olive oil on top.  Roast at 425ºF for about 30 minutes or until the veggies are browned real good and garlic is fragrant.

Drain the tomato juice off.

Use a food mill to remove the seeds and skins. Mine is a Kitchen Aid fruit and vegetable strainer attachment.

Place in a crockpot large enough to contain the tomato sauce and add all the other ingredients. Cook on high uncovered until the desired consistency is achieved (took about the whole day for me). Stir occasionally. (Meanwhile, I was doing other chores).

Make it smoother by using either a stick blender (also called immersion blender) like I had, or transferring to a blender and blenderizing until smooth.

Heat up some more until you are sure you want the consistency. Prepare your lids and jars (I like using pints) by sterilizing them (I use a steam canner) for at least 10 minutes at 180ºF steam, then ladle the sauce into the jars, wipe the rips, place the lids and bands, then process in either a water bath canner or the steam canner for 25 minutes.

Almost like making smoothies using the stick blender

Ladling the pizza sauce onto the homemade pizza dough
The finished homemade pizza that got rave reviews from my family

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Chicken Gumbo

Chicken Gumbo
Nine years of marriage, and I only discovered that my husband would LOVE chicken gumbo!

Well, it was my first time cooking it. We had leftover chicken meat from roast chicken that we had over the weekend. And I guess all of us were getting tired of the usual chicken-and-gravy-on-toast or chicken sandwich that we have had in the past to use up leftover roast chicken meat.

I was browsing a KAF catalog when I saw the photo of "Gumbo Biscuit Bake" and I thought I could make gumbo without the biscuit (to eliminate wheat).  When I still did not think much about consuming processed food, my fave soup to bring to work was Campbell's Chicken Gumbo soup. Now that we have been trying to stay away from processed foods (for health reasons), seeing the recipe for this one inspired me to make my own.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Kefir-Buttermilk Pancake

Kefir-Buttermilk Pancakes
Fluffy, full-bodied, can stand on their own, this pancake recipe is a keeper!  However, I don't think a lot of people have discovered the health benefits of kefir milk yet. With this post, I hope to start spreading the news at least to the Filipinos, especially if you have issues with your bowels.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Homemade Mozzarella Cheese

Manang's Homemade Mozzarella Cheese
I have this book by Ashley English, Homemade Living: Home Dairy with Ashley English: All You Need to Know to Make Cheese, Yogurt, Butter & More , which I have had since last year when my family started using raw milk from cows raised by my BIL/SIL. It took a while for me to look at the recipes and decide that I could at least do some of them, mostly the soft cheeses and fermented milk (like yogurt, kefir, and buttermilk).

I now understand that a lot of people make HOMEMADE stuff that can easily be bought from store. One reason is like mine: we are getting plenty of milk for free, and very fresh at that. Just like canning produce while they abound, why not turn extra milk (after setting aside milk that we can consume as is) into something else? And the learning process is also exciting! 

1 gal raw whole milk
2 tsp Citric Acid (I got from a brewing store)
1/4 Vegetarian Rennet tablet, crushed (I got from amazon)
1/4 cup sterile cold water (I boiled then let cool)

1 tsp kosher or sea salt

Stainless steel stockpot
Slotted spoon
Big microwaveable bowl


The rennet tablets and citric acid
The rennet table is scored into 4

Crushed rennet

Rennet dissolved in cold sterile water
 Stir the citric acid into the milk. Heat on medium stirring occasionally until temp reaches 88 ºF. Meanwhile, whisk in the crushed rennet table in the sterile water.

Once temp reaches 88, add the rennet mixture and continuously stir while heating to reach 104-106 ºF. At this point, whey separates from curd.

Remove from heat and cover. Leave alone for 15-20 minutes.

Using slotted spoon, remove curds from whey and transfer to a big microwavable bowl. Squeeze out excess whey using the slotted spoon and remove. 
Removing curds
Curd transferred to microwavable bowl

Whey expressed out
Microwave on high one minute. Use spoon to express more whey out. Add salt.  Then either use same spoon or your gloved hand to stretch and fold (like kneading a dough) to express more whey. When shiny and elastic like taffy, microwave again on high for one minute. Stretch and fold repeatedly again until it becomes like chewing gum in elasticity, while still removing whey if there's any left. If it breaks easily, microwave another 30 minutes and repeat the process until smooth and elastic.

Microwaving the curds

Expressing out more whey
I could not take photos while I was doing this part so here is a snapshot of the page in the book
I came up with this round mozzarella that fits on my palm.

Store in a lidded container. Preferably consumed within a week.
Ready for the fridge

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