"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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Monday, January 31, 2005

How I Make Breadcrumbs

This is a re-posting from my old kusina.

For Racquel and everyone else who might benefit from this bit of info...
One of the ways I use stale bread is to make bread crumbs (others: bread pudding, french toast, bread pizza). Bread crumbs can be used on our favorite roll pan de sal, or in such recipes as meatballs and embutido (recipes for pork embutido here and here and for beef embutido here).

The way I prepare it depends on the season, and winter is my favorite time to make breadcrumbs because I don't need the oven, and therefore, it's cheaper energy-wise. Here's how:

Before the bread develops molds (which usually happens if the bread is kept in a place where heat causes "sweating" of the bread, and moisture is trapped inside the plastic packaging. Shred the bread into small pieces and place on a baking sheet with enough space that allows good exposure. Since winter is a time when there are no flies, just place the baking sheet on the countertop overnight. The humidity level during winter drops so much (below 30% in my area) that by morning the bread slices are very crunchy. I use the chopper to pulverize them (some use ziploc and rolling pin). When bread is dehydrated this way, there is no danger of toasting them, as against using the oven during more humid days (either at 200 deg of right after turning off the oven after baking a dish or rolls and letting the residual heat dehydrate the bread pieces for around 5 minutes).

After pulverizing the breadcrumbs, I store it in the container of the first and only breadcrumbs I ever purchased. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, January 26, 2005


The only form of Pork that really appeals to my husband is the HAM. We usually get this Ham Steak to break the monotony of beef. I just cook it on skillet-fried in minimal oil, served with mashed potatoes and either boiled greens or salad greens. This is good enough for the four of us.

If we are having my stepdaughter with us, Hubby prefers this Smithfield Hickory Smoked ham. I cook it longer than that written on the instructions, and I have not considered glazing it (I am not sure if this kind of ham would be good with a glaze) until I read Stel's post on glazes in WK.

I cook it longer to warm the core very well, then just slice it and usually we eat it with mac&cheese (Krafts is the favorite of hubby and his daughter). However we can't finish all this ham in one meal, so what I do with leftover is convert it to a kind of quesadilla but which I would rather label as Ham & Tortilla Stack.

What I do is, I slice them thinly, then place on a flour tortilla, layer them alternately with cheese (white, mozarella, or cheddar or a mixture of these), sprinkle with chopped veggies like bell peppers and onions for that side from where I would slice off my sons' and my shares. I repeat the layers until all the flour tortilla or all the ham slices are used. I top with another flour tortilla so that it appears like stacked pancakes. Then I microwave this for a minute or until the cheeses are melted. Then I divide them into slices much like you would a pizza. I serve it with sour cream and tomato salsa in separate containers, not on the slice itself. Though my older son only likes my home-made regular (not hot) salsa, my younger son, hubby and stepdaughter like to eat the ham-tortilla stack plain, and I like it with both hot salsa and sour cream. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Shrimp Sinigang

My younger son is so fond of shrimps. When we were in the PI, my mother would steam shrimps and just let it sit in the fridge as fingerfood of her favorite apo (grandson). So, even if shrimps are quite expensive here (they are expensive even in PI), I buy them from time to time for variation. One of the favorite shrimp dishes is the sinigang. Never fails with the kids. I don't bother offering it to husband as he is not fond of seafoods (would only eat scallops and haddock and red salmon, as far as I know).

I think the sour-salty taste of sinigang is characteristically Pinoy. So I don't attempt to offer it to foreigners.

I usually buy from the grocery store the E-Z peel uncooked jumbo shrimps. These shrimps already are beheaded, and veins removed (to my dismay! I could use those for seafood broth to be used in pancit!).

BOIL in a saucepan (all amounts approximations only' serves 3 persons):

3 cloves garlic

5 peppercorns

1 medium onion

2 med tomatoes cut in half

2-3 cups water

2 small peeled taro

until the tomatoes are throughly cooked and incorporated in the mixture very well.


1/2 lb shrimps

green beens (or later if you want it crispy)

salt to taste

sinigang mix (about 1 tbsp)

Wait for about 2 minutes or until shrimps are cooked. Then add the greens. Suggestions are:

a handful of:


chinese cabbage (this looks like the baguio pechay in PI)

and turn off the heat. Let the residual heat wilt these last additions. Serve immediately with plain rice, placed in individual serving bowls.

My boys usually ask for a separate small bowl of just the broth and slurp it down as a finale.

Posted by Hello

Monday, January 24, 2005

Mix-In-A-Jar by my Boys

I registered my boys in the After-School Program, which runs in seasons (different line up of types of activities for each season). During the Holidays last year, I enrolled them in the "Mixes In A Jar Crafts". Here's a photo of their products. Since both of them are enrolled, we got to try one and preserve the other at least until the collection was completed.

These are, from left to right, all the mixes that they have prepared:

Cranberry Raisin Bread

Hot Cocoa

small Hot Cocoa (different recipe)

M&M Cookies

Friendship Soup

So far, we have tried the hot cocoa, the Friendship Soup and the M&M Cookies.

M&M Cookies

Since these were meant for the Holidays, the M&M chocolate candies were coated in red and green colors.


For the quart jar:

1 1/4 cups sugar

1 1/4 cups M&M chocolate candies

2 cups flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

For the preparation, to be written on the gift tag, available here):

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened

1 beaten egg

1 tsp vanilla


For the jar:

Mix together flour, soda, and baking powder. Layer sugar, M&M candies and flour mix in 1 quart canning jars. Be sure to pack firmly.

Add fabric, ribbon and gift tag to jar.

For the preparation:

Empty jar of cookie mix into mixing bowl, blend thoroughly.

Add 1/2 cup butter or margarin, softened, 1 beaten egg and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Mix until completely blended.

Roll into 1-inch balls and place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Nake at 375 degrees until edges are lightly browned, about 12 to 14 minutes.

Right after baking these cookies (as in piping hot and very soft), my husband was so eager to have one. Despite almost burning his fingers and tongue, he could not wait for the cookies to cool down first.

Friendship Soup

This is like a combination of stew and rice porridge, with the addition of beans. Hearty and healthy, this is a novelty for both me and my husband, and I can't believe it is an American recipe! I have been making dishes converting leftover mac & cheese into revised version of the Filipino sopas, which my husband has jokingly commented looked like a dish for swine (sarap batukan). This looked worse, and I admit, it does seem like "kanin-baboy." But I am open for new things, so I cooked it. It has a taste characteristically Italian, and it went very well with biscuits.


For the jar:

1/2 cup dry split peas

1/3 cup beef bouillon granules

1/4 cup pearl barley

1/3 cup dry lentils

1/4 cup dried minced onion

2 tsp Italian Seasoning

1/2 cup uncooked long grain rice

1/2 cup tri-colored pasta

1/2 cup alphabet macaroni

Layer ingredients in jar and put lid and cover on.

Additional ingredients for preparation:

1 lb hamburg

1 can tomato sauce (4-0z)

1 can diced tomatoes (28-oz)

4 qt (8 cups) water


In a large saucepan, brown hamburg and drain.

Carefully remove macaroni from top of jar and set aside. Add water, tomatoes, tomato sauce and soup mix. Bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes.

Add the macaroni. Cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until beans are tender.

Yields 4 to 5 quarts, so I prepared this for a weekend lunch when we had my nephew and niece with us.

Hot Cocoa Mix

We have been enjoying these jars of hot cocoa. It goes well with the cold season.


2 cups powdered milk

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup cocoa

1/2 cup powdered non-dairy creamer

1/4 tsp salt

miniature marshmallows, optional


Combine all ingredients and layer with marshmallows in quart jar. Makes about 4 cups osf hot cocoa mix.

For preparation:

Add 2-3 tbsps to a mug of hot water.


I am documenting these for future reference. Those that we deem really good we might try to prepare next holiday season. It is a creative, enjoyable and frugal way for the children to prepare their gifts for relatives. Other ideas can be found at this website and some more here. (I found it when I was looking for the Preparation instructions for the M&M cookies because both boys forgot to attach a gift tag. I am sure my MIL and SILs will appreciate these.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Chewy Brownies (A Mix-In-A-Jar Recipe)

Last December my younger son came home with a note about the class' celebration of Thanksgiving and a request for sending in a bread mix for the occasion. They would bake the mixes there. I looked for recipes of mixes at VeryBestBaking.com but I had no canned pumpkin to make a mix for the traditional pumpkin pie or bread. What I had was, as usual, the Nestle Toll House Choc Morsels. So I opted to prepare the mix for Chewy Brownies and instructed my young son to give it to his teacher when he gets to school.

He came back home that day still with the mix. Apparently he forgot (again) to give it to his teacher for their celebration.

I ended up baking it. It was my first time to bake brownies without Betty Crocker's help (that's one of my husband's favorite mixes). It was greeted with warm acceptance and eager mouths.

Here's a cut and paste of the recipe from the website.



LAYER ingredients in order listed above in 1-quart jar, pressing firmly after adding each ingredient.

NOTE: After adding cocoa, wipe out inside of jar with paper towel. Seal with lid and decorate with fabric and ribbon.


PREHEAT oven to 350° F. Grease 13 x 9-inch baking pan. Pour brownie mix into large mixer bowl; stir. Add 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) melted butter or margarine, 2 large eggs, 2 tablespoons water and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract; stir well. Spread into prepared baking pan. Bake for 18 to 25 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out slightly sticky. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Dust with powdered sugar. Makes 2 dozen brownies.

You, together with your kids, may want to make this as gifts for relatives next Christmas (Chewy Brownie Mix in a Jar). Here's a free printable gift tag to go along with it. You will just need quart jars and some ribbons. For an idea of how it looks like, click on the recipe link I provided above.

Posted by Hello

Monday, January 17, 2005

Choc-Oat Chip Cookies

I know, I know...I previously said quite with a final tone that I might not try another cookie recipe, but I could not help trying this other recipe at the label of Nestle Toll House chocolate morsels, because I had a bag of old-fashioned rolled oats which had been sitting in the pantry for eons.

Basing on my observations in the past, my kids and husband did not like whole oats in breads. I presumed that they would not like this either. I sighed deeply and got on with it.

So it was a pleasant surprise to see those cookies gone in a matter of hours that night. I said to hubby,"I thought you did not like oats?"

"Are you kidding? I LOVE OATMEAL."

Now I have run out of rolled oats.

Recipe can be found here and at the back of the packaging of Nestle Toll House Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels (for a video of how-to and step-by-step photos, get the idea from the Original Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe here). So, for you newbies in cookie-baking like me, go ahead and get a big pack of those morsels and share with your family these sweet delights.Posted by Hello

Haddock Fried in Butter

So far, after being married to my fussy-eater husband, I have learned only of two fishes he likes: (1) the canned Red Salmon and (2) the fresh Haddock.

Simple to prepare, this butter-fried haddock only needs to be dredged in flour , seasoned with salt and pepper, then fry in butter (I heat the butter at setting #7 and wait til the butter has clarified.), five minutes on both sides. Drain excess oil on paper towel.

I like serving it with creamed beans and french fries.

For creamed beans, heat 2 tbsp butter(setting #6) then add 2 tbsp flour all at once stirring with a ballon whisker to avoid formation of lumps. Then add 1 cup of milk, still stirring continuously until the desired consistency is achieved. Add previously boiled beans, season with salt and pepper to taste, and remove from heat when beans are heated through. Add a handful of shredded cheddar cheese (or to taste) and stir to melt.

I don't feel the need to teach here how to make french fries, but in case one is such a newbie to it, just cut the potatoes accordingly, place on paper towel sprinkle some salt, pat with the paper towel then deep fry on high heat for about 5 minutes or until potatoes develop golden crust.

Of course you can always serve the fried haddock with mashed potatoes (or simply, boiled potatoes -- let your husband mash and season it himself).Posted by Hello

Chicken Mushroom Sourcream Bake with Rice-a-Roni

My husband eats rice as dessert, not as a staple food which all our Pinoy dishes are supposed to complement. (For freshly cooked plain rice, he adds half n half cream, white sugar and nutmeg to taste. Don't ask me the proportions; I never tried it.)

But I thank God for finding (it was revealed to me by husby himself) this Rice-a-Roni which is cooked almost like fried rice, but which does not use leftover rice. This is cooked by blending it with melted butter then adding 2 cups water and its seasonings then left covered to cook slowly under low heat, much like sinaing.

My kids found it very tasty. Though I don't quite like the mushy consistency (it's almost like malata), I like its flavor. My husband can eat just that alone! But, the Filipina me of course prefer it served with a main dish. And what better thing to serve than chicken baked with sour cream.

For this chicken dish, place serving sizes of deboned chicken in a baking dish, pour a mixture of 1 can of mushroom sauce and 1 8-oz sourcream. Bake at 350 deg F for 30 minutes or until done, then add cheese (I used here slices of white cheese; you may use shredded mozarella or cheddar cheese) and cook further until cheese melts. You may want to serve shredded fresh veggies on the side (we use Iceberg Garden Salad), sprinkled with Wish-Bone Robusto Italian Salad Dressing.

Pardon the lack of art in my presentation. I prepare our meals very much the way a typical Filipino family would on an ordinary day. We are very informal, which is the way my hubby and I both like it. (And it's one of the reasons we get along together very well.)Posted by Hello

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Tortang Talong with Pepperoni

I did not use up all the pepperoni for the callos, and I was contemplating on making a home-made pizza, but then I saw the Italian eggplant which I meant to use for kare-kare, so what I did was to cook it a la tortang talong with pepperoni.


1 Italian aggplant, broiled then peeled

3 eggs, slightly beaten

salt and pepper to taste

few slices of pepperoni (enough to cover the torta)


Heat the skillet on mod-high heat (#7). Using a fork and holding on to the stem, mash gently with a fork to flatten the eggplant. Pour the beaten egg and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Lower the heat to #3 and slide the eggplante-egg onto the skillet. Quickly distribute the pepperoni slices on top, cover and let cook for another5-7 minutes.

Children loved it, and so did I. I served it during lunch with plain rice when hubby was not here. I knew my hubby would not even try because when it comes to vegetables (except potatoes, tomatoes and carrots), he usually prefers them just boiled, or creamed, or as salads served with Wish-Bone Robusto Italian dressing. Nothing else. Posted by Hello


One of the Pinoy dishes (aside from dinuguan, paksiw na pata, estopadong lengua and lengua with mushroom sauce) I brought to the party with the Pinoy doctors here was the callos. I used Sassy's recipe to the letter, save from using pepperoni (sliced) instead of the chorizo, and eliminating the use of chili since pepperoni was already spicy, and I had no leg to use, just tripe. I adjusted the ingredients' proportions accordingly.

I remembered to post about it today because of stel's recent post about callos here. I still have some tripe left (I was hoping to use it for kare-kare but I had no banana blossom so it stayed in the freezer). Posted by Hello

RECIPE (in case link gets broken again)
1 k. of ox tripe
1 k. of ox leg
1 pc. of chorizo de bilbao
1 whole garlic
1 whole onion
5 pcs. of peppercorn
1 bay leaf
1 whole garlic, minced
2 onions, diced
2 tomatoes, diced
1 carrot
1 c. of cooked chicken peas (garbanzos), peeled
3/4 c. of frozen sweet peas
3-4 potatoes
2 bell peppers. julienned
1/2 c. of tomato paste
2 pcs. of chili pepper
3 tbsp. of olive oil
2 c. of beef stock
freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp. of finely chopped fresh basil
1/2 tsp. of finely chopped fresh rosemary
12 pcs. of pitted olives (optional)

Wash the ox tripe and leg. Remove all visible fat from tripe; scrape leg with a sharp knife. Place them in a large casserole and cover with water. Add whole garlic, onion, peppercorns and bay leaf. Bring to a boil; remove scum as it rises. Cover and simmer until tender (4 to 6 hours, depending on the age of the ox). Alternatively, use a pressure cooker. Cook the meat for about 2 hours counting from the time the valve starts to whistle.
Transfer the cooked meat to a plate and cool. Strain the stock. Measure 2 cups; reserve remainder for later use. Cut the tripe and leg meat into 1/2″ x 2″ strips.
Peel the potatoes and carrots. Cut into 3/4″ x 3/4″ cubes. Cut the chorizo de bilbao into very thin round slices.
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or casserole. Over medium-high heat, saute the garlic, chili peppers and onions until fragrant, about 45 seconds. Add bell peppers and tomatoes and cook for another 45 seconds. Add chorizo de bilbao slices and cook until they start rendering color. Increase heat to high and add the tripe and leg strips. Cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste, beef broth, carrots, chick peas and potatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Uncover the stew and add the sweet peas, basil and rosemary. Cover and simmer for another 3 minutes. Serve hot with pitted olives on the side. Alternatively, add the olives to the stew at the same time as the sweet peas.

Thanks to Sassy for this truly Filipino classic dish!

Buko (Coconut) Pie

very think and hard flesh of mature coconutBefore Christmas, I bought a coconut that I saw at Hannaford, the kind that we would label as niyog in PI. My plan was to make a buko pie with it, according to the recipe that stel gave to me. I waited til the 23rd to see what kind of coconut it was. I was dismayed at what I saw...I had half-expected it, but I was hoping it was not so - a very mature coconut. I got the coconut water, then tried to scoop thin flesh, but I found it too hard for the spoon. I got a fork, and I came up with nyog that we usually use on puto, kutsinta, etc...you get the idea.

I stored the nyog in a jar in a fridge, thinking of what to do next.

Then I opened the macapuno jar that Joanne gave me, but found it too mature to be labeled as macapuno...hmmmm...but not too mature to be used in buko pie.

So, I got stel's recipe and proceeded with my experiment.

The ingredients as per stel's recipe were:

2 cups buko meat (which I did not have; I had the whole jar of macapuno with its syrup)

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup coconut water

1/2 1/2 cup evaporated milk (I used fresh milk)

1/2 cup starch

I forgot to look at her instructions (I scribbled it alongside other notes from the net), which called for cooking the mixture and stirring continuously then pouring it into a pastry-lined pan, to top with the 2nd crust then baked at 400 deg F til brown. What I actually did was to pour directly the uncooked mixture into the pastry-lined pan, top with the second crust, brush with eggwash, bake at 400 deg for 15 minutes then a further45 minutes at 325 deg F.

After it has cooled down to a comfortable-to-the-palate warmth, buko pie cooling down on a wire rackI started gobbling it up. Shared it with hubby, who could not decide whether he liked it or not, but he kept tasting it again and again that he ate half of the slice, saying, "It's different; the texture is interesting. I still can't decide whether I like it or not...maybe I'll have a slice when I come back. (He was about to go to the local store to get his supply of Pepsi, a habit I find hard to break for his own sake.) I was thrilled that he seemed to have liked it, but the novelty of the texture and taste (they are used to tart-sweet gooey fruit pies, whereas we Filipinos like em sweet and with a definite form).

My older son was hooked to it, he asked for another. My younger did not even try. When hubby came back, I was ready to offer him a slice while it was still warm, but he declined because he had to use the bathroom...Oooops...guess those who are not used to coconut will always have to deal with that problem initially. I and older son enjoyed it for the next 2 days, reheating the pie for several minutes in the oven toaster.Posted by Hello

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Joanne's gifts

Joanne is a long-time friend of mine even when we were both still in the Philippines. She's a nurse and we were both working in the same clinic before. She is in Philadelphia now. Knowing my plight here (far from any Filipino store), she sent me these goodies before Christmas. My hubby liked the Otap (I had a fun time teaching him the proper way of pronouncing it. "Honey, not ow-tap. You say it as o-tup." He got it on his second attempt. Hurray for him!) The boys loved it too. We had only 3 of them left by morning of the next day. The Mang Tomas sarsa and Jufran ketchup also became staples for my kids, esp. the older one. They really preferred the sweet taste of banana ketchup over the sour tomato ketchup. I used Nestle cream for fruit salad, but I reserved the macapuno for buko pie (due to kusina accidents; I will post about them later).

Of course the Datu Puti Vinegar (made from coconut) will also find its way to chicken/pork adobo. We have started consuming the misua (that from Ting was also out), especially during these cold winter days.

Thanks a lot for these (and other) Christmas gifts that you sent, Joanne! We really enjoyed them.Posted by Hello

Monday, January 03, 2005

Expanding my foodblog experience

Initially it was just a way to while away time and to share my experiences in the hope that it would help those who are still to tread the same path that I am taking...

The first surprise was a recognition from a long-time blogger, our mother-blogger Connie, the Sassy Lawyer. Then emails and notes from fellow Filipinas around the world. Then links with fellow Filipina foodbloggers who were, to my delight, inspired to share their very own kitchen and food experiences outside of the Philippines. It really, really made kitchen-life easier for me, and I have been having so much fun with the exchanges!

Then the next big surprise were links with foodbloggers who are non-Filipinos and/or posts by them. Fanatic, for one, is not a mere foodblogger posting about recipes, but one who is a nutritionist, and her site is very very informative! And now I got an invite to swap links by Benjamin Christie, an Australian chef! Now ain't that a very pleasant outcome of my small endeavor?

It's too late now to post about my previous links (see my Karatig-Kusina for more great finds), but allow me to say that this blogging experience has been the highlight of my previous year, one that gave me salvation for my sanity as I try to cope with homesickness and adapt to my new environment and try to combat depression that is not only brought by the long winter months but also by the mere fact that I don't drive around here yet, made worse by not having any means of public transportation here.

It was not for recognition that I blog, but I am honored for the recognition I have received so far. I feel small, yet it is inspiring. And seeing my site listed among the links of the more popular sites gives me a sense of achievement, no matter how small, no matter how financially unproductive.

Thanks to the foodblog community that I found and that which continues to expand as the days go by. Truly, my world, no matter how physically confined to my small town and small house, is never really miniscule, but one that feels like a universe.

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