"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

Please use this search engine or the labels at the lower left side to look for a recipe. Thanks!

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Chicken Adobo American Style

I have never met any Filipino or non-Filipino who did not like
From Chicken adobo with garlic rice
the taste of this easy to prepare savory dish. This is one of the few special dishes which kids and adults alike will want over and over again...

My husband has always loved this dish, he would even ask for the leftover to be included in his lunchpack for the next day! I have modified a bit to bend to the inkling of Americans to gravies and sauces, so I thickened the sauce a bit.

1 whole chicken, cut up
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup vinegar
3 cloves garlic, crushed
10 peppercorns, crushed (or use freshly milled pepper)
1-3 bay leaves

1/2 cup water (or as much as you would like your sauce to be; I like some extra for flavoring adobo fried rice for next day)
adjust taste with sugar and additional soy sauce if desired
water-cornstarch for thickening

Mix all ingredients except chicken. Pour some into a big saucepan to cover surface, place the chicken pieces, then pour the rest of the mixture. Simmer covered for 10 minutes, turn the pieces over, then simmer for another 10 minutes. Uncover and turn heat up to reduce the sauce until chicken renders fat (careful not to scorch). Lower heat to medium high and brown chicken pieces. Add water to reconstitute the sauce. Adjust taste with sugar if desired (I add about 1-3 tbsp) and some soy sauce (or you can use salt). Thicken to desired consistency. Strain sauce to make it smoother if desired.

My husband loves the breast part, eaten with mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli. My kids like garlic fried rice instead of potatoes. My stepd likes plain rice with it.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Handle and Prepare food safely

Almost everyone has experienced a foodborne illness at some point in time. But do we only get sick from restaurant food? No, in fact many cases of foodborne illnesses occur when food is prepared at home. If food is handled and prepared safely, most of those can be avoided. All food may contain some natural bacteria, and improper handling gives the bacteria a chance to grow. Also, food can be contaminated with bacteria from other sources that can make you ill. Contaminated or unclean food can be very dangerous, especially to young children, older adults, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems. Each year in the United States, approximately 76 million people get sick, more than 300,000 are hospitalized, and 5,000 Americans die each from foodborne illness.

There are four major tips you can use to prevent contaminating food.

1. Use caution when you buy your food.
Buy perishable food such as meat, eggs, and milk last.
Avoid raw or unpasteurized milk.
Because eggs, meat, seafood, and poultry are most likely to contain bacteria, do not allow their juices to drip on other food.
Shop for groceries when you can take food home right away so that it does not spoil in a hot car.

2. Store your food properly.
Store eggs, raw meat, poultry, and seafood in the refrigerator.
Use containers to prevent contaminating other foods or kitchen surfaces.
Your refrigerator should be set at 40� F.
Your freezer should be set at 0� F.
Regularly clean and disinfect the refrigerator and freezer.

3. Use special precautions when preparing and cooking food.
Wash your hands and clean and disinfect kitchen surfaces before, during and after handling, cooking, and serving food.
Wash raw fruits and vegetables before eating them.
Defrost frozen food on a plate either in the refrigerator or in a microwave, but not on the counter.
Cook food immediately after defrosting.
Use different dishes and utensils for raw foods than you use for cooked foods.

Cooking Guidelines


Cook eggs until they are firm and not runny.
Do not eat raw or partially cooked eggs.
Avoid eating other foods that include raw or partially cooked eggs.


Cook poultry until it has an internal temperature of 180� F .
It is done when the juices run clear and it is white in the middle.
Never eat rare poultry.


Cook fish until it is opaque or white and flaky.


Cook ground meat to 160� F.
It is done when it is brown inside. This is especially critical with hamburger meat.

4. Cool and promptly store leftovers after food has been served.
Because harmful bacteria grow at room temperature
keep hot food hot at 140� F or higher, and
keep cold food cold at 40� F or cooler.
This is especially important during picnics and buffets.
Do not leave perishable foods out for more than two hours.
Promptly refrigerate or freeze leftovers in shallow containers or wrapped tightly in bags.
Basically use common sense and when in doubt, throw it out. It is much cheaper to throw out bad food than it is to pay expensive medical bills or miss work.

Source: US FDA

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Can Your Kitchen Pass the Food Safety Test?

As I was previously browsing the pages of asawa.org, the thread of discussion on proper food handling caught my attention. The main topic was about refrigeration and left-over food, with concerns about how long before the cooked food should be refrigerate...etc. While it is true that ideally, we should refrigerate food within two hours after eating, it is also advisable to reheat to boiling such left-overs before consumption. Filipinos have practised letting the food attain a room temperature before refrigeration (because we think it would be a burden to the compressor of the ref to put hot/warm items inside), and commonly, coupled with proper reheating before eating it again, we don't suffer from food poisoning (usually caused by Staphylococcal enterotoxin). For such items as mayonnaise-containing left-over (like egg sandwich or salad with dressing), which we will NOT re-heat prior to eating, it is advisable to refrigerate within 2 hours after it is cooked, or better yet, consume everything before it reaches 12 hours in the fridge, less if at Room Temp, or throw away any left-over. It is never comfortable to suffer from the ill effects of Staphylococcal Food Poisoning (or any other food poisoning for that matter).

See if your kitchen will pass the Food Safety Test:

By Paula Kurtzweil

What comes to mind when you think of a clean kitchen? Shiny waxed floors? Gleaming stainless steel sinks? Spotless counters and neatly-arranged cupboards?

They can help, but a truly “clean” kitchen—that is, one that ensures safe food—relies on more than just looks: It also depends on safe food practices.

In the home, food safety concerns revolve around three main functions: food storage, food handling, and cooking. To see how well you're doing in each, take this quiz, and then read on to learn how you can make the meals and snacks from your kitchen the safest possible.


Choose the answer that best describes the practice in your household, whether or not you are the primary food handler.

1. The temperature of the refrigerator in my home is:

a. 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius)
b. 41° F (5° C)
c. I don't know; I've never measured it.

2. The last time we had leftover cooked stew or other food with meat, chicken or fish, the food was:

a. cooled to room temperature, then put in the refrigerator
b. put in the refrigerator immediately after the food was served
c. left at room temperature overnight or longer

3. The last time the kitchen sink drain, disposal and connecting pipe in my home were sanitized was:

a. last night
b. several weeks ago
c. can't remember

4. If a cutting board is used in my home to cut raw meat, poultry or fish and it is going to be used to chop another food, the board is:

a. reused as is
b. wiped with a damp cloth
c. washed with soap and hot water and sanitized with a mild chlorine bleach solution

5. The last time we had hamburgers in my home, I ate mine:

a. rare
b. medium
c. well-done

6. The last time there was cookie dough in my home, the dough was:

a. made with raw eggs, and I sampled some of it
b. store-bought, and I sampled some of it
c. not sampled until baked

7. I clean my kitchen counters and other surfaces that come in contact with food with:

a. water
b. hot water and soap
c. hot water and soap, then bleach solution
d. hot water and soap, then commercial sanitizing agent

8. When dishes are washed in my home, they are:

a. cleaned by an automatic dishwasher and then air-dried
b. left to soak in the sink for several hours and then washed with soap in the same water
c. washed right away with hot water and soap in the sink and then air-dried
d. washed right away with hot water and soap in the sink and immediately towel-dried

9. The last time I handled raw meat, poultry or fish, I cleaned my hands afterwards by:

a. wiping them on a towel
b. rinsing them under hot, cold or warm tap water
c. washing with soap and warm water

10. Meat, poultry and fish products are defrosted in my home by:

a. setting them on the counter
b. placing them in the refrigerator
c. microwaving


1. Refrigerators should stay at 41° F (5° C) or less, so if you chose answer B, give yourself two points. If you didn't, you're not alone. According to Joseph Madden, Ph.D., strategic manager for microbiology in the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, many people overlook the importance of maintaining an appropriate refrigerator temperature.

His advice: Measure the temperature with a thermometer and, if needed, adjust the refrigerator's temperature control dial.

A temperature of 41° F (5° C) or less is important because it slows the growth of most bacteria. The temperature won't kill the bacteria, but it will keep them from multiplying, and the fewer there are, the less likely you are to get sick from them....

2. Answer B is the best practice; give yourself two points if you picked it.

Hot foods should be refrigerated as soon as possible within two hours after cooking. But don't keep the food if it's been standing out for more than two hours. Don't taste test it, either. Even a small amount of contaminated food can cause illness.

Date leftovers so they can be used within a safe time. Generally, they remain safe when refrigerated for three to five days. If in doubt, throw it out....

3. If answer A best describes your household's practice, give yourself two points. Give yourself one point if you chose B.

... [T]he kitchen sink drain, disposal and connecting pipe are often overlooked, but they should be sanitized periodically by pouring down the sink a solution of 1 teaspoon (5 milliliters) of chlorine bleach in 1 quart (about 1 liter) of water or a solution of commercial kitchen cleaning agent made according to product directions. Food particles get trapped in the drain and disposal and, along with the moistness, create an ideal environment for bacterial growth.

4. If answer C best describes your household's practice, give yourself two points. Washing with soap and hot water and then sanitizing with a mild bleach solution is the safest practice ...

If you picked A, you're violating an important food safety rule: Never allow raw meat, poultry and fish to come in contact with other foods. Answer B isn't good, either. Improper washing, such as with a damp cloth, will not remove bacteria.

5. Give yourself two points if you picked answer C.

The safest way to eat hamburgers is to cook them until they are no longer red in the middle and the juices run clear ... Cooking food, including ground meat patties, to an internal temperature of at least 160°F (71° C) usually protects against food-borne illness. Well-done meats reach that temperature.

To be on the safe side, check cooked meat, fish and poultry with a meat thermometer to ensure that they have reached a safe internal temperature.

For microwaved food, follow directions, including the standing time, either in or out of the microwave, after cooking. Microwave cooking creates pockets of heat in the food, but allowing the food to stand before eating allows the heat to spread to the rest of the food.

6. If you answered A, you may be putting yourself at risk for infection with Salmonella enteritidis, a bacterium that can be in shell eggs. Cooking the egg or egg-containing food product to at least 140°F (60° C) kills the bacteria. So answer C—eating the baked product—will earn you two points.

You'll get two points for answer B, also. Foods containing raw eggs, such as homemade ice cream, cake batter, mayonnaise, and eggnog, carry a Salmonella risk, but their commercial counterparts don't. Commercial products are made with pasteurized eggs and ... are not a food hazard....

7. Answers C or D will earn you two points each; answer B, one point ... Bleach and commercial kitchen cleaning agents are the best sanitizers—provided they're diluted according to product directions. They're the most effective at getting rid of bacteria. Hot water and soap does a good job, too, but may not kill all strains of bacteria. Water may get rid of visible dirt, but not bacteria.

Also, be sure to keep dishcloths and sponges clean because, when wet, these materials harbor bacteria and may promote their growth.

8. Answers A and C are worth two points each. There are potential problems with B and D. When you let dishes sit in water for a long time ... the food left on the dish contributes nutrients for bacteria, so the bacteria will multiply. When washing dishes by hand ... it's best to wash them all within two hours. Also, it's best to air-dry them so you don't handle them while they're wet.

9. The only correct practice is answer C. Give yourself two points if you picked it.

Wash hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food, especially raw meat, poultry and fish. If you have an infection or cut on your hands, wear rubber or plastic gloves. Wash gloved hands just as often as bare hands because the gloves can pick up bacteria. (However, when washing gloved hands, you don't need to take off your gloves and wash your bare hands, too.)

10. Give yourself two points if you picked B or C. Food safety experts recommend thawing foods in the refrigerator or the microwave oven or putting the package in a water-tight plastic bag submerged in cold water and changing the water every 30 minutes ...

When microwaving, follow package directions ... Smaller items will defrost more evenly than larger pieces of food. Foods defrosted in the microwave oven should be cooked immediately after thawing.

Do not thaw meat, poultry and fish products on the counter or in the sink without cold water; bacteria can multiply rapidly at room temperature.

Rating Your Home's Food Practices

20 points: Feel confident about the safety of foods served in your home.

12 to 19 points: Reexamine food safety practices in your home. Some key rules are being violated.

11 points or below: Take steps immediately to correct food handling, storage and cooking techniques used in your home. Current practices are putting you and other members of your household in danger of food-borne illness.

Source: FDA Consumer, October 1995.

Microsoft® Encarta® Reference Library 2003. © 1993-2002 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Dinner Rolls (Make Ahead)

My brother-in-law was getting married, and his fiancee requested that I prepare the rolls. Although I was quite unsure how I would manage to prepare freshly baked rolls for ~150 people, I did not want to turn her down. So I looked for the recipe that included instructions for freezing before baking (my first attempt at baking rolls had an output of 4 dozens! It was hard to consume all. Nakakasawa!). And I found this recipe from Sarah's kitchen (see links on the side). Still, my problem was planning the timing of baking, as well as preparing the materials that I would need (about 8 baking pans at least!)
Glad my mom-in-law saved me from that predicament, though. She told my bilas that we could buy finger rolls and then just use with egg- or ham- or tuna-mayo filling. I really love my mom-in-law. Still, I prepare this once every 2 months (dividing it into 3 batches for serving 3 times in a week's span.). My husband sees it as a treat!


1 1/4 c warm water (110-115 deg F)
2 pkgs active dry yeast
1/2 c warm milk (110-115 deg F)
1/3 c butter or margarine, softened
1/2 c sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
5 1/2 to 6 c all-purpose flour (or 1:1 ratio of APF:whole wheat flour), may use up to 7 cups)
2 large eggs, room temp


Place 1/2 cup warm water in the mixing bowl. Sprinkle in yeast; stir until dissolved.
Add remaining warm water, warm milk, butter, sugar, salt and 2 cups flour. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed.
Add eggs and 1/2 cup flour. Beat at high speed for 2 minutes. Stir in enough remaining flour to make soft dough.
Turn out onto lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Put in a greased bowl, grease top of dough, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled.
Punch dough down. Shape into desired shapes for dinner rolls.

TO BAKE WITHOUT FREEZING: Place on a greased cookie sheet 2 in apart (or muffin pans) , cover with plastic wrap or paper towel and let rise in warm, draft-free place, until doubled in size, about 1 hour. (Tip to make it rise faster: Put inside the oven, turn on the oven for 1 minute then turn it off. This will create a warm draft-free environment.)

TO BAKE WITH FREEZING: Place shaped rolls on a waxed paper-lined baking sheet or greased muffin pans. Place uncovered in the freezer for 30 minutes or so until frozen. Then transfer into plastic bags for storage upt o1 week. To bake, place on baking sheets as above, cover with plasctic wrap and let thaw rise in a warm, draft-free place for 3 hours at room temp (faster if warmer as in under sunlight).

Bake at 350 deg F for 15 minutes or until done. Remove from baking sheets/muffin pans; brush with melted butter. Serve while hot. (Note: If you noticed in the slide show, I baked this along with the chicken roll-up. If you plan to serve rolls with a baked dinner such as this, put the rolls into the oven during the last 10 minutes. They may reach 12-15 minutes to get golden brown, but those extra minutes won't hurt the chicken.)

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Misc: In defense of RICE, esp. during this low-carb frenzy

Links updated as of 1-16-09

Rice is the staple food of the Filipinos. I love rice and I grew up eating rice at every meal, sometimes even during merienda.

Then a daily help tip from My Yahoo posted this:
Choose complex carbohydrate over simple sugars! Simple sugars in white flour, pasta, rice and cake are digested and absorbed quickly and can cause blood sugar swings and cravings. Complex carbohydrate are foods that contain fiber, including whole grains, whole grain breads and cereals, whole fruit instead of juice and vegetables and salads.
HELLO! Excuse me! In biochemistry, simple sugars mean carbohydrates consisting of one (monosaccharide) or two (disaccharide) units. AS far as I remember, no food has monosaccharides. And as far as I know, the simplest sugars in our diet are the dissacharides sucrose (in table sugar), fructose (in fruits), lactose (in milk), and maltose (in beer) (tell me if you know of other sugars in our diet). Sugars with more than two units are polysaccharides, which may be simple (unbranched) or complex (branched). Starch, cellulose, glycogen (in muscles and liver of humans and animals), chitin (in exoskeletons of crustaceans like shrimps and crabs) are some examples. Starch is a complex polysaccharide.

This page shows a schematic diagram of grains in general (which can represent rice and wheat and other grains). It shows that most of the grain has starch as its major component in the endosperm. Therefore, rice, be it white or brown, is a complex carbohydrate. However, the brown rice is more nutrient packed and has more fiber (which is also a nutrient, by the way, in contrast to what some claim that white rice is devoid of nutrients). A comparison of brown versus white rice is found here. And this site shows a comparison of the nutrients in different carbohydrate-rich foods. So for the health-conscious, preferring brown over white rice is okay. For the white-rice lovers like me, don't be guilty. In the first place, these "healthier" options are sold at a higher price (siyempre, mapagsamantala sa business, parang yung mga nagsasamantala sa low-carb fad). Secondly, we Filipinos tend to eat more veggies than the typical American (meaning, not health-conscious) and less meat. We even eat the tender stems of many vegetables and those are rich in fiber! (The typical American don't. I know of one who even asked his friends if they eat the stem of broccoli...). The key is still a wide variety in the contents of your menu (should include all those included in the food pyramid).

So for those rice lovers like me, just know your limit in terms of carbo percentage in your TCR. Wag magpa-uto sa mga low-carb food items on the grocery shelves. Those are just for the ignorant. (Bakit ko babaguhin ang eating habits ko eh ang sexy ko kaya para sa may 2 anak...ano hilo?)

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