"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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Thursday, February 24, 2005

Braised Tip Steak with Capers

This is tip steak. It is not so tender and not so lean, so I cook it usually by braising. Tap it with paper towel first to remove excess water before browning.

After browning tip steaks, remove and set aside. Heat 1 tbsp of oil on med-high. Sautee 1 medium sliced onion and 1 tbsp capers. This is a jar of capers. I just saw a recipe in one magazine using this. I had no idea before what it was. Luckily, my husband, who did not know about it either, found it. It has a different spicy, not hot, taste.

Add 1/4 cup A-1 Regular steak Sauce mixed with 1/4 cup beef broth or water. Lower the heat (about 3), cover and simmer for 20 minutes or so until tender, checking from time to time and adding 1/8 cup water as necessary to avoid scorching.

When tender (test with fork), see that there is enough sauce left to pour over the steaks. Season with salt and pepper as necessary.

Hubby liked it, so now it is among my list of recipes. Posted by Hello

Saturday, February 19, 2005


Slow-cooked bulalo is a classic among many families.Sassy talked about Bulalo and has a recipe for it and a deviation from the traditional way of cooking it. Ting-aling also has a post here. With all that I don't need to post a recipe at all. Just wanted to share some tips.

Bulalo is called Pot-au-Feau by the French, and this is not at all exclusive to the two nationalities. Hence we cannot call this a truly Pinoy dish, but one which is loved by Pinoys. However, while other terms are used to denote the same method of cooking beef, when we say "bulalo," it refers to the bony parts (usually the shank, be it of beef or pork). It produces stock that is tasty and satisfying indeed.

My preferred ingredients and method:

Beef shank (I have frozen cuts labeled "bone soup") - thawed in the fridge for a whole day or overnight, boiled in a saucepan for 15 minutes, drained, and placed in 10-qt slow cooker with as much water as it can accomodate, cooked on high for a minimum of 6 hrs

spices - 3 pierced cloves of garlic, 1 whole peeled onion,, 10 peppercorns, 1 bay leaf, slices of celery (added at the start of slowcooking)

vegetables - chunks of potatoes and carrots added 1-2 hrs before serving, then snap beans or pechay or cabbage added 30 minutes (or less if you want it crisper) before serving

Salt or patis to taste

I observed that my in-laws also use the same method of cooking corned beef or ham (as cured by the butcher), hence this dish is welcomed by them as well. However, they serve the meat, potatoes and other veggies separately and without the stock, while we Filipinos love to have them all swimming on our plate full of rice, with the soup stock served in small bowls/cups, on which I also love adding snips of spring onion and a dash of ground white pepper.

If I plan to store some of the stock, I get about 4-6 cups from the stock into a big saucepan to cook the vegetables before serving Bulalo. Then I strain (or I let them stand for a while in wide-mouthed bottles so sediments will settle, refrigerate to harden the oil and remove it first) and freeze the leftover stock in muffin pans (the 6-cup trays I used in my leche flan) for 30 minutes empty containers of cottage cheese/sour cream for at least overnight then transfer them into labeled freezer bags. Great for cooking other beef dishes or as soup base for ramen.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Beef Tenderloin Steaks

I remember the time when I had a conversation with my mother-in-law. My hubby had told her on another occasion that I was a good cook, "but I miss the simple steak/boiled potatoes/boiled veggies." That conversation made me realize that indeed, what I have been trying to do with the meals I serve were too complicated (sauteeing, adding sauce). I likened that food preference to what we Filipinos would consider an everyday simple meal: pritong isda (fried fish), Kamatis (raw tomatoes) with patis or patis-mansi (patis combined with calamansi juice) with blanched kamote (sweet potato) tops (the young leaves with the tender stems), and plain rice. So whenever I feel too lazy to cook, I cook steaks. Or when I crave for something Pinoy like pancit or munggo guisado, I cook steaks only for my husband. And beef tenderloin steaks are the best cuts.

cooking tenderloins on a heavy cast-iron skilletUsing cast-iron skillet heated on high with 1 tbsp of oil, beef tenderloin takes only about 5 minutes per side to cook for well-done steaks. That's how my hubby likes it. For some who like it medium-rare it may take as short as 2 minutes.

Served while hot and juicy (overcooking will dry it up) with A-1 regular steak sauce, boiled veggies and boiled potatoes is how my husband prefers it. I can serve this to him anytime and expect a heartfelt thank-you kiss after the meal. This to him is the typical good American meal, which to most Filipinos would be considered good beef tenderloin steaks with boiled veggies and boiled potatoesbut expensive (beef is very expensive in the Philippines) and usually only available in high-class restaurants or hotels, not in wet markets where most Pinoys get their supplies of fresh meat.

Since my in-laws raise the cattle for our own yearly supply of beef, it is indeed the cheapest (and best considering that it is grass-fed and we know exactly how it was raised. This type of beef can command a high price if sold, and a lot of consumers concerned about the food they eat would grab at the opportunity to get a hold of this grass-fed cow even at a high price). We pay only $1 per pound to the butcher, no matter what cut (good steaks in the grocery stores can range from $4 to $8 per pound). The rest of the "cost" is into the labor we/my in-laws put into raising the cattle. Since we divide a whole cow into 1/4 (four families), we get to shell out only $250 per year for butchering. Not bad eh? However, for the whole year, from our share of the cow, we only get around 4 lbs of tenderloin steaks. So when we run out of tenderloins, I cook other steak cuts like porterhouse, t-bone, rib-eye, etc. I will post on how I prefer to cook these other cuts in the future. A related post about beef is found here. To know more about beef cuts, click here. (I noticed that I have rarely posted about these meals that are common in my kitchen now that I am where I am.)Posted by Hello

I mentioned to my Filipino dr-friends here about our grass-fed cows and the benefits of eating grazing animals, as compared to grain-fed. They were very interested in buying if my in-laws would sell the beef. I talked recently with my in-laws. My brother-IL is taking over the herd, and they plan to sell, but the selling is by the half: 1/2 or 2 halves or 3 halves of the cow. Not 1/4 , not 20 pounds, etc. The cost would be, regardless of the cut, $1.75 per pound to my in-laws, $0.50/lb to the butcher (I think they might have had an arrangement with the butcher that by bringing him more butchering jobs, he lowered his labor costs), which will come to around $500 per half of the cow. Not bad, considering the quality of the meat and the price that is very competetive against those available in the grocery stores. But my brother-IL would be selling only 1 cow this year's fall (yes, there is that timing. Not this winter, spring nor summer.) . I hope more local farmers would go into that. Not only would it bring income to the local farmers and to the local community, it would also benefit the community in the fight against obesity and its complications (which we can now see as having its roots from the processed and refined foods that are so ubiquitous).

If you are also worried about the beef you buy from the grocery store, consider looking for a local farmer in your area who is also into the same kind of business. Not only are you using your money wisely, you are also doing your body a favor by giving it real good food. If you have no choice but to buy from the grocery stores, here's a good resource for guidelines.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Gallstones, Kidney stones and Hyperuricemia

I was operated before for my gallbladder stone (GB removed), and a consequent finding of my abdominal ultrasound then was the presence of a kidney stone about 1 cm in diameter. I had no histopath of the stone that was removed; we left the kidney stone alone. (My uncle-surgeon operated on me for free). I was thinking that the two stones might be related.

In formation of GB stones, there is the 4Fs mnemonic that I recall from Med school These enumerate the four F risk Factors that the patient might have to develop gallstones: Female, Fertile, Forty's and Fat. I was then 30 y.o. and certainly slim. So my RF were only that I was a female and at my reproductive age (not Fat, not Forty). I sought for other explanations, and I tried to link the two stones. I recalled that around 6 months prior to the diagnosis of my gallstone, I suffered from low-back pain that was not traceable to UTI nor lumbar problems, but which I could surmise to be secondary to my very very high levels of uric acid in my blood (hyperuricemia). Nirarayuma na ata ako...

I could also blame my infrequent sips of water...During those days when I often forgot about my thirst, thinking, "I'll attend to the next patient first then I'll drink," plus the lack of potable water save from bottled ones that I had to buy from the store across the street (nakakadyahe magpabili sa maintenance), I probably only was (unintentionally) able to drink about 6 cups of liquid (water, coke, coffee) per day or less...not much for a hot place on earth!

So along those lines (hyperuricemia and very little water intake, the latter contributing to concentration of urine formed, aggravated by procrastinating the bladder emptying) I deduced, without further laboratory tests, that my two stones could have resulted to the precipitation (due to low water level) of the uric acid crystals in my serum.

Of course I kept in my mind the guidelines for low-purine diet to lower my uric acid levels, but then, I recalled having read that most of the uric acid we have in our body came from our own production, and only minimally from dietary sources (I am telling you, if you are one hypertensive hyperuremic diabetic patient, you might die of starvation if you try to stick to the dietary guidelines!)

I believe that my usual food intake does not cause the alarming levels of my uric acid. Especially that my sister and an aunt also had gallstones and had their GBs removed.

After having visited Fanatic's blog on caffeine, uric acid and gout, I sighed a relief upon her re-affirmation of my belief that the dietary intake of purines account less significantly than my own body's production. And what is more comforting is the reassurance that I can continue to enjoy my coffee and may even increase its intake without subjecting myself to the "dangers" of forming uric acid crystals; on the other hand, it promotes excretion . Still, I have to develop the habit of drinking more water (at least 2 gallons a day!) for this purpose.

I remember after my operation while I was on duty, I was with a nurse who also had a prior Cholecystectomy (his was more complicated and he had multiple stones), and he told me that, "Pano yan, doktora, eh di tataba ka na rin? Di ba pati ate mo ganyan din. Tamo ang taba nya ngayon...tapos ako rin, tumaba."

Haha...I questioned his line of reasoning for that. To me, my lack of GB would mean that my bile (which helps in the digestion of fatty foods by emulsifying them so that digestive enzymes could find more surfaces to act upon) would come in steady stream to my small intestine, in contrast to the more controlled release by the gallbladder which contracts and releases bile in response to fat intake (hence those with stones usually feel painful spasms after eating deep-fried foods). So, if there is no fatty food, the bile has nothing to act on. If there is a high fatty intake, the bile will not increase accordingly, hence I will digest the fat less efficiently. More undissolved fat will pass through my intestines and will produce a diarrheal effect (oops, excuse me!). And since less fat is digested, less fatty acids (products of fat digestion) will reach my blood. Less fatty acids will be used to build up my fat reserves.

But I am getting thicker now especially that it is winter...You know why? I am eating way above my carbohydrate and protein requirement...I really badly need to move more and lessen my boredom...

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Stir-Fried Top Round Steak with Bell Peppers

This is a recipe from Del Monte Kitchenomics. Instead of beef sirloin, I used top round steak, which I cut into thin strips using a very sharp knife.

For such stir-fried beef recipes, I have come to favor top round steak because I did not like it when cooked the usual way -- pan-seared. I found it too tough and dry. Cooking it as strips requires just a few minutes of cooking time, hence, I can thoroughly cook it (both me and hubby like any meat well-done) and still retain its juiciness.


1 lb top round steak, cut into thin strips,

Marinated in :

1 1/2 tsp soy sauce,

2/3 tsp iodized salt

2 tsp sugar

1 tbsp cornstarch

1 tbsp tomato ketchup

1 dash of crushed red (cayenne) pepper (optional)

1/4 tsp pepper for 20 minutes. Set aside.

6 cloves garlic, crushed (about 3 tbsp)

1 medium onion, cut into rings

1 tbsp ginger strips

1 can (140 g) Tomato Sauce (I used my canned tomato sauce, about 1 cup)

1/3 cup water

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 large red and green bell peppers, cut into strips

2 stalks green onions, chopped


Saute garlic, onion, ginger and marinated beef strips. Cook for 5 minutes.

Add tomato sauce, water and soy sauce. Simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in bell pepper and let cook until wilted (or don't if you want it crispier) and add green onions. Serve over hot rice.

This recipe has been approved by my husband and kids.

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