"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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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Canning: Wild Mackerel in Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

Homecanned wild-caught mackerel
I homecanned mackerel. If you have bought some mackerel in tin cans, I made my own version.
Why homecan?
1. It frees up my freezer space for new items that I can freeze. (We have chicken, pork and beef slaughtered in fall, so I need to clean up my freezers to prepare. That means I need to free up the space.)
2. Making a big batch, enjoy over an indefinite period of time, with serving portions good for a meal or two. This is especially handy when I have the craving for fish and no one to share it with. Both my sons are off to college. My husband does not eat mackerel.
3. When you are a control freak where foods are concerned, that you can be obsessive about the quality of the food you eat, from ingredients to sanitary conditions of food production. I want the best ingredients...BUT...
4. It's cheaper to make them yourself than to buy. A 4.4 oz of great quality canned wild mackerel that are sustainably harvested can cost from $1.25 to $3.15. (That means, the equivalent amount of my pint-jar of canned mackerel can demand anywhere from $5 to $12.60.)
5. They last longer. If canned properly, the shelf-life is basically indefinite. You don't even have to reheat before eating. Compare that to freezing, when they might get freezer burn if you don't consume within a year.
6. It's way for me to share with my sons my love of seafoods (or other foods). I send a jar or two of whatever I homecanned when they are going back to their dorm/apartment. They won't need a refrigerator or freezer for this, and they are ready to take along as well.
7. When fish is pressure-canned, you can eat the bones! That's calcium!

I don't fish as of this typing (maybe that will change later), but a few of my Filipina friends and their husbands do, and I am inkling towards going with them. Anyway, some of them do it for hobby (usually for their husbands initially). And so sometimes they overdo it -- they end up having too much than what their freezers can accommodate or what they can consume in a year. So they give away their excesses. And that's how I ended up with more than two gallon-bags of mackerel (even after this batch, I have two gallon-bags more of larger sized mackerels). They also gave me squids...with the ink bags intact!
Given by friends

If you are new to canning, please use this link to learn the principles of canning first before you embark on it. Believe me, botulism, a form of food poisoning, is common with homecanned foods. So please be smart. Be safe.

Ingredients & Instructions:

Clean the jars in hot soapy water. Inspect for nicks. Must be intact. No need to sterilize. The heat of pressure-cooking will sterilize the jars.
Sliced and kept in icewater

Clean the fish. Hopefully the innards were removed within two hours of catching. Otherwise, removed them before canning. Keep in icewater while you work on slicing the pieces and until you are ready to pack into the jars. You may add some vinegar into the water, they say to remove slime. Slice to fit in the jars you are using, or slice into bite-sized chunks. I like to use wide-mouth pint jars for this so the contents are easier to get out of the jar. You can gather the smaller pieces later to put in a jar, or to fill up spaces.(Note: Do not dump the water. You can use this to enrich your soil/water your garden.)

Boil water enough to cover the lids. Place the lids in then turn off the heat. Do not boil the lids. The heating is just to soften the rubber.

In each jar, place: 1/2 tsp canning salt (I use Morton's), a pinch-ful of whole black peppercorns (3-5 pcs), 1 small bay leaf, 1 pitted olive (I use canned green olives with the carrot or pimiento(?) inside and cut that in three), 1 cherry tomato (just because I was not sure what to do with my harvest). Sprinkle some toasted garlic (I had leftovers from a mushroom sauce-based dish I had for supper. I used my thumb and two fingers to get the amount I need per jar.)
My seasonings

Pack the mackerel in tightly. Use the smaller pieces to fill in. Push if you must to expel air.
Pack them tightly!

Add EVOO, about 3 to 4 T and 1 T vinegar (I used Datu Puti) to fill spaces (and to flavor, of course!) so that your headspace will be that space where you see the ridges for the cap/band (about 1 inch). Do not overfill. This is necessary so you don't have boil-overs and you will actually expel air out during processing (creating the vacuum seal).
See the headspace?

Use a butter knife or bubbler to release bubbles. (I am sure you will find videos on yt how to can, so you get the idea of what I mean here.) Wipe rims with paper towel to make sure there's no oil (that might prevent sealing of the lid's rubber against the jar rim) or other pieces that might interfere with the seal. Place in the pressure canner. Have as much as 2-3 inches water up the sides of the jars. Build the pressure to 10 psi. Time for 100 mins (I based this on an Alaskan govt's method of canning salmon). Let cool off completely before removing from the pot, without removing the weight.

Once pot is cool, open and lift the jars carefully. They might be oily. Wash them with soapy water. Let stand for 24 hours before removing the bands to check for seal. One way to check seal when the band is still on is to see if the lid is concave, which means it was pulled in by the vacuum created. Once you remove the bands, another way to check seal is to lift the jar up with your fingertips only touching the lid, not the jar itself. If lid stays, it's good to go and ready for storage.

Hope I sparked your interest in canning!

Below is the photo of the jar with the least amount of fish that I canned. Fish only filled half the jar, so I used cherry tomatoes as filler.
Straight out of the jar.

Smells and tastes like those sold in tin cans!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Lobster Newburg

Lobster newburg on a bed of zoodles
This recipe was shared to me by a former patient, Jeannine T., who used to work as a chef in Governor's restaurant. (I have been asking patients who love cooking/baking or used to work/currently working as chefs or used to own restaurants for their two fave recipes.) She mailed two of her fave seafood recipes to me a few months after she was discharged from the hospital, coupled with a Thank You card to express her appreciation for the care I gave to her during an unforgettable night that was a life-and-death situation.

When I first made this, I used phyllo shells (never knew they were this small...see photo below). I realized that since newburg sauce is pretty much like any creamy pasta sauce, I next served it on a bed of zoodles (above photo), and I can imagine it being served on a zucchini boat, or any pasta (if you are not gluten- or wheat-intolerant).

My husband does not eat lobsters when he can see them as "insect-like" but will eat lobsters prepared this way since it's all cut up. And he likes this recipe.

Lobster newburg on phyllo shells
1/4 lb butter
2-1/2 cups lobster meat
1/4 cup flour (not sure what could be a good sub for those gluten- or wheat-intolerant, but I might try potato starch as a sub, though I have not tried)
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp Accent (optional; this is aka MSG. I tried not to use the second time I cooked this, and it was just as delicious)
2 cans evaporated milk (I used 1 can evap and the equivalent amount of heavy cream the second time I made this)
2 Tbsp sherry cooking wine

INSTRUCTIONS (I modified per  how I actually cooked).

IN a skillet on low to medium heat, cook lobster in 2 Tbsp butter to draw the color slight. Set lobster aside. Add the rest of the butter until melted on low heat. Combine all dry ingredients and make a roux by adding to the melted butter and constantly stirring, then slowly adding the milk/cream to make a creamy paste. Add the lobster meat again to coat, then add the sherry slowly while stirring.

Serve over pastry shells or toast (or pasta or zoodles).

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Sauteed Shrimps and Sayote

Simply Savory Sunday brunch: Sauteed Shrimps and Sayote
I used extra jumbo shrimps which still had the shell. While prepping the veggies and cutting the shrimps lengthwise (make them more curly), I was boiling the shrimp shells in water to extract its flavor into a broth, which I added to the dish while still boiling.

2-3 cloves garlic
1 lb shrimps, deveined and shelled then cut lengthwise
2 sayote, sliced for stir-fry
2 T patis (optional) or salt to taste
1 cup shrimp broth
1/8 cup or so of heavy cream (optional; I just like mine to be really savory. If you want this to be Paleo, eliminate the cream. If you are using raw heavy cream, this is Primal.)
various crushed herbs (optional; I used basil, oregano, thyme, parsley, and savory)

Sautee about 2-3 cloves of sliced garlic in hot coconut oil. When slightly browned, add shrimps and sayote. Stir-fry for about 2 mins or as soon as shrimps turn pink, add patis or salt, and the (still-boiling) shrimp broth and herbs. Adjust salt as necessary. Turn off heat and add cream.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Buko (Young Coconut) Pie - my most expensive homemade pie in the US

Buko Pie
I had an old old post of buko pie but at the time, not knowing where to get buko, I used macapuno. Not quite the same.

This time, I now know that I can order young coconuts from Hannaford grocery stores and get them the very next day or so. The coconuts are imported from Thailand. I trust Hannaford when it comes to sourcing their produce. So even if pricey at $3.99 per piece, I get my buko fix from Hannaford. Tip: If you order them then get them right away, you will get white meat. If you wait and get the ones displayed on the shelves, the meat is pinkish. Not sure why, but it tastes okay if you can get past the color change.

Yes, it is expensive! Just for the cost of ingredients alone, a pie can cost $15. Add in the labor, gas for the trip to the grocery store, gas to bake, and it could easily be ideally sold at a minimum of $50 per pie! Now if only the pie makers like Marie Callenders can make frozen buko pie from the source, then import them here to the US as ready-to-bake pies...hmmmm...maybe we Fil-Ams should make a demand.

A friend of mine brought buko pie last December for my birthday/Christmas party. One of my co-workers (Black American) who I invited loved the pie and asked me to give one to her as a birthday gift. Her birthday was last Tuesday; I ordered the coconuts Monday. We both worked Wed and Thu, and I finally got my coconuts last Friday. My son's birthday party was yesterday (Saturday) so now that it is Sunday, I finally found the time to tackle this gargantuan task with the help of my son.

Coconut meat scraped from a case of young coconuts imported from Thailand
My able-bodied son cracked the coconuts open and drained the water out into a pitcher, while I scraped the meat. The thinner meat were shaped into squares, and the thicker ones were scraped with the looped scraper (that results to noodle-like shape). After all were done, I ended up with enough to make 3 pies. So, one pie = 3 young coconuts  = roughly 2 cups.

Ingredients: (To make 3 pies)
9 young coconuts (This makes a whole case.)
1 can of 12-oz evap milk
2&1/4 c sugar
1&1/2 c tapioca starch (or cornstarch, if you prefer more body instead of gooey)
1&1/2 c coconut water
3 t pandan extract
few drops of lemon extract

Double pie crusts x 3
egg wash (1 egg plus 1 T milk; beat together)

Mix all ingredients except meat from young coconuts.

Cook on low medium heat while stirring constantly until thick.

Turn off heat and mix in the coconut meat.

This is your filling for 3 double-crust pies.
I only made 2. I froze the third portion for filling another pie at a later time.

I used this organic pie shell for bottom. I used Marie Callender's for top crust.
Brush top with egg wash.

Bake at 400ºF x 15 mins then at 325ºF x 45 mins.

Perfectly golden brown!

Puffed up at the middle. Of course it will shrink once cooled.
Enjoy while warm! Great with coffee or vanilla ice cream. As my son's experience goes, does not go well with cold coconut water (because the coconut water taste becomes indistinguishable).
Mostly coconut meat!

I had a second portion!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Canning: Beef Lengua

Beef lengua preserved in their broth
Every fall, we have a whole cow slaughtered for a fresh supply of beef. My SIL/BIL also sell beef to friends. So every year, I have a supply also of the less desirables -- oxtail, suet/tallow (which I can use to make soap), beef liver, and beef tongue.

What do I do when the freezer is still not quite empty, with the prospect of being filled with the new batch of meats? My solution is simple: Canning.

So, I had four beef tongue to pre-cook before the final recipe. I have always found out that the best way to prepare beef (especially the tough meats) is prolonged cooking, including slowcooking. Another way is to pressure can. But I cannot wait for a get-together of Filipinos to prepare the lengua the way Filipinos usually like them, like with mushrooms or as estofado. So the best way to deal with them NOW is to can them, much in the same way as I would boil them first.

Please take note that this is my first time, and as such, was a learning opportunity for me to homecan my lenguas. In no way am I saying this is how you should do it, but you can learn from my experience if you too want to homecan yung beef lengua. Advantages: Pre-cooked beef lengua in can/jars will allow you to just prepare the sauce while roasting or pan-frying the slices in butter then pour the sauce over the slices...easy-peasy.

But I had to peel off those white covering of the tongue. And this can only be achieved by pre-cooking. Instead of boiling them for hours, I chose to pressure cook, This is my first time to use my pressure canner to pressure cook, and the instructions from the manual states to bring the pressure up to 15 psi and cook the meat. This is my first time to can lengua, and so I tried to follow a pressure cooking method to be able to "skin" the tongue. I found one on youtube, where he used an electric pressure cooker to cook the tongue for one hour and peel. The inside meat was still reddish.

Broth to cook includes garlic, peppercorn, onions, bay leaves, Italian-type of herbs, sea salt (about 1/2 T per quart of water). I used Presto pressure-cooker/canner to cook this at 15 psi for one hour.
So I pressure cooked my 4 tongues at 15 psi for one hour. I probably should have done it only for 20 mins to par-cook, but I was not sure whether that was enough to peel off the skin. But when mine was done, it was too done. Easy to peel but also the meat tended to just separate into fibers. Next time I do this again, I will try the pressure cook only for 20 mins.

I had to freeze for several hours before slicing, to make it easier to retain shape while slicing, since the meat was soooo tender!

After peeling (which was very easy) and freezing for about 3 hours, they were ready to slice.

Then I reheated the  broth, and placed slices in the hot quart jars. I poured enough of the broth into the jars to leave about 1 to 1-1/2 inch headspace. I had 4 quarts. I had enough water to reach about 1 inch to 2 inches up the sides of the jars, then placed the lid on, boiled and vented for 10 mins before applying the weight (I used the All-American Pressure Canner which has weighted gauge). Had the pressure go up to 15 psi, then timed for 90 mins per instructions from the USDA guidelines for canning meat chunks in broth via hot pack. I let the canner cool down before I took the jars out.

I am guessing the meats will be almost ready to deteriorate once I cook them into something like lengua in mushroom sauce, so I will just brush them with oil, roast for a few mins to brown, while preparing the sauce separately then pouring onto the slices of meat.

I love having all these opportunities to learn about preserving these select meat/offals that we consider delicacies.

For more info on canning meat chunks, please click this link.

To learn more about pressure canning, click this link on using the pressure canner.

Friday, February 27, 2015

BIKO with PIRURUTONG - Manang's version

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

Blueberry Sour Cream Cake

My MIL shared a piece with me. I loved it. She shared 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:
1-1/2 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 the frozen blueberries.

Sprinkle the topping:
1/2 c brown sugar
1 T cinnamon

Cinnamon-sugar on top

Bake for 35 to 45 mins. Cover with paper towel when cooling.

A slice of the blueberry sourcream cake

Blueberry Syrup

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