"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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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Kare-kare (Beef Stew in Peanut Sauce)

Kare-kare is one of my favorite Filipino foods,
From Kare-kare
and I think the best part to use for this dish is what we Filipinos refer to as kenchi (our freezer stock is labeled "soup bone" but the actual cut is from the shanks. The Mama Sita's ready mix has the "oxtail" on the procedure. Well, it is good for the flavor, but shank meat is best for eating enjoyment of this Pinoy dish. When I do want this dish, I usually make bulalo with more meat and soup than we could use, so that I will have leftover boiled meat for kare-kare. And I do not put salt to achieve the right saltiness because kare-kare is meant to be not salty, so we can enjoy it with bagoong alamang (shrimp paste). This is how I prepare it.

Prepare in a slow cooker the following:
oxtail, soup bones (Boil first in plain water for 10-15 minutes, removing scum as it rises, then dish these out and place in slow cooker)
water, enough to cover the meat/bones and some more
3-5 cloves garlic
10-15 peppercorns
5 bay leaves
some salt

Slow cook for 8 hours on low setting.

Set aside 3 cups of broth. Boil the vegetables (typically chunks of eggplant which go first followed by green beans.

Meanwhiel, in a bowl, mix and blend well the following:
1 cup broth
3/4 cup peanut butter
1 pouch Mama Sita Stew Base Mix Pang Kare-kare

When eggplant and green beans are done, add the mixture and stir to mix well until thickened to desired consistency. Add bok choy and cook for about 1-2 minutes.

Serve over hot rice with shrimp paste.

My younger son and I love it. My older son, so-so. My husband, forget it. He never did like any meat part with lots of fascia/ligaments in it, tender or not.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Holiday Paper Baking Pans

I mentioned this in my supersoft ensaymadapost which I made last Sunday and was quite surprised to have received them by Tuesday early afternoon! Later, I got an email from them stating they shipped the items already. Kudos to KAF for very good business practice. It is an employee-owned business and very reputable. I purchased 4 sets of these at $6.95 each (each set has 4 pans) and a set of all-purpose bakery bags. I have my Christmas ribbon to tie that.

Now I have to make the invitations for the Christmas Party.
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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Frozen Almond Brazo De Mercedes

From Frozen Almond Brazo De Mercedes

10:50 PM

Nephew: Oh wow! This is the best tasting dessert I have ever had in a long while!

SIL: That was good! As a matter of fact, it is a tad better then the Paris Brest! (Paris Brest is what I always hope my SIL would bring during these gatherings. I love it.)

Sons: Yummy! This is so good, ma!

Husband: Thanks, honey. That was awesome!
Me: So, is this something I should make again?
Husband: Definitely! You can make it everyday!

Me: Mom, would you like me to leave some of this brazo?
MIL: Oh yes, PLEASE! That was so good!

VERDICT: It was a HIT!!!

Gotta make one again for Filipino Christmas Party.

11:45 PM
Done assembly!

11:21 PM
Cooling the meringue now...

11:00 PM
Meringue baking and the rest of the brazo in the freezer right now...

For some reason I was craving for this. And in my head I was toying with the idea of adding almonds to it...then when I went grocery shopping last Monday I impulsively grabbed a box of almond paste aside from sliced almond nuts.

I got the recipe and how-to's for the brazo itself from stef's post on the traditional brazo de mercedes log roll type. But reading the comments, I learned that the latest craze was frozen brazo de mercedes. I thought that would be an easy solution to the usual dilemma of baked meringue/egg-y/custardy goodies (which we are always afraid to be contaminated with Salmonella when out in room temp for a long while), and will allow me as well to prepare it much ahead of time (like when I prepare leche flan -- always best when chilled for at least overnight). That way, I can still make egg pie tomorrow and bring only that as freshly baked and still warm. (My MIL is addicted to my leche flan, my SIL to egg pie. My bilas loves both. I hope this new custard type of dessert will also wow them.) If it turns out superb, I might prepare this for a Filipino Christmas Party I am contemplating on having.

While photos and flavors of such frozen BDM that I saw while researching more about it were of mango flavor, which is definitely not an option for me, I had this persistent idea in my head brewing, which consisted of adding almond paste and sliced almond nuts to the filling, then chopped caramelized sugar sprinkled on top of the meringue...Sounds sinfully good to me...I hope it does turn out good. I used the vanilla because it has been a tested favorite among my family members.

Please take note of wiping the stainless steel mixing bowl with vinegar and salt then rinsing, then wiping dry, prior to placing egg whites in it. And before I started the whole process, I made caramelized sugar first.

Ingredients and How To's:

8 oz crushed graham crackers
1/4 cup melted butter (or 1/2 cup if you want this layer more intact,less crumbly)
2 tbsp sugar
1/4 gallon vanilla ice cream (approximately; I just got thin layers using a pie server to lay on top of the graham base; you may opt to put the whole gallon for a thicker layer)

Mix thoroughly the first 3 ingredients then pack at the bottom of a 13 x 9 baking dish. Top with thin layer of ice cream. Cover with cling wrap then freeze.

1 box (7-oz) almond paste, grated, sprinkled on top of the ice cream

10 egg yolks (the egg whites should be placed in the mixing bowl and let stand in room temp for about 30 minutes before making the meringue)
1 (14-oz) condensed milk
several drops of lemon extract (to eliminate the fishy smell)
2 capfuls of almond extract

2-oz sliced almonds, sprinkled over the custard filling.

On medium low heat (#3 or 4 on my stove), blend well and continuously stir egg yolks and condensed milk until it sticks to the back of the wooden spoon. It may look still very liquidy at this stage but after removing from the heat, it will continue to cook so keep stirring, add the lemon extract, stir well, then the almond extract.

Spread this on top of the almond paste. Place back in the freezer (The short intervals of having this out of the freezer is to prevent the ice cream from melting too much while you work on it). Proceed with meringue procedure and while baking the meringue, sprinkle the sliced almonds on top of the custard. Place back in the freezer.


10 egg whites
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
3/4 cup sugar

5 tbsp Caramelized sugar, cooled and chopped finely (The melted caramel should be poured onto a buttered baking sheet. Let harden, take off from pan, then chop in a chopper.)

As suggested by stef, since I have stainless steel mixing bowl, I wiped it first with vinegar and salt then rinsed and wiped dry with paper towel before I placed the egg whites in it.

Line the bottom and sides of a jelly roll pan (10 x 15) and spray with oil on all
sides (meringue, I realized, is so sticky!). Preheat oven to 350 deg F.

Add the cream of tartar to the egg whites and start beating, low speed first then gradually increasing to highest speed. When soft peaks start to form, pour the sugar gradually and beat until it forms stiff peaks, still glossy. (You have overbeaten if it loses sheen and appears granular. This does not take too long as soon as you start slowly pouring the sugar.) Spread this onto the wax paper and level with spatula. Bake for 20-25 minutes (it inflates so much!!! I felt I had to rotate because one side was way much higher than the other).

Place on a wire rack to cool completely (deflates). Sprinkle some chopped caramelized sugar on top of the meringue then place a sheet of wax paper. Cover with bigger baking sheet and flip over. Peel off the wax paper from the underside of meringue. (I goofed here; did not spray with oil the sides of the wax paper, so it was so hard to peel it off the meringue edges.)

Lift the meringue using the wax paper, folding at the middle a bit so it is easier to place on top of the base/filling. Tuck the edges under. Sprinkle the rest of the chopped caramelized sugar. Place back in the freezer.

To serve: upon getting from the freezer, while still hard, slice with butter knife. Rinse with hot water and wipe knife with every line of slice (or when some custard starts to stick to it). Optional: drizzle with maple syrup.

Will post photo of sliced brazo, then update on how it was accepted by my in-laws and family tomorrow after celebration of Thanksgiving...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Coconut-Cinnamon Rolls & Pan de Coco-Cinni

This post is especially dedicated to Susan of Guam, who sent me an email yesterday about MY pan de coco recipe...She is one of those who give me inspiration.

Okay, here's the recipe for my Coconut-Cinnamon Rolls
From Coconut-cinnamon rolls
that made my husband close his eyes savoring his bite as he taste-tested this the night I baked them. I guarantee you this is gonna be a hit to any cinnamon and coconut lover.


Prepared dough (I used half of my buttery ensaymada dough for two logs)

Mix and put in the fridge overnight -
8-oz grated coconut (that's about 1 cup packed?)
1 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar

Add to the above mixture the following prior to filling the dough:
2 tbsp ground cinnamon (you may add up to 4 tbsp depending on how cinn-y you want it)
5 tbsp flour

2 tbsp milk to brush on dough prior to filling

Directions (the slideshow is pretty much self-explanatory:

Prepare filling.
Roll dough to about 8x 13 in; make sure you sprinkle flour on the countertop and on your rolling pin. The dough gets stickier as it stays in room temp.
Brush milk onto the dough. Spread the filling thinly. Spare the edges that should make the seam.
Roll tightly into a log. You may have to use the dough cutter (dipped occasionally into a mound of flour) to lift up the dough as you roll.
Cut at 1-inch intervals using dough cutter (wipe the blade before every slice). Fix the roundness of the cut piece with your fingers before you place onto a greased pan.
Let rise for one hour inside the oven warmed by "baking" for 1 minute then turned off.
Take out of the oven; start heating up the oven for real baking at 350 deg F.
bake for 15-20 mins or until the middle dough is browned.
Loosen edges from the pan and invert onto a plate to remove.
Place on a cooling wire rack. If not eating right away, cool completely and wrap in plastic. May store at room temp for up to 3 days. (I guarantee you this is better than store-bought canned cinnamon rolls!).

Basically the same recipe for Pan de Coco-Cinni --


Prepared dough (I used 1/4 of my buttery ensaymada dough)
Remaining filling (not sure how much was there; probably a cup)
Egg white for glaze

Cut dough into pieces (I cut them just so I could barely close my hand around each piece- yields pieces that are quite big one can fill you up quickly)
Flatten to disks.
Put about 1 tbsp filling at the center. Fold over the edges to seal.
Flatten the pieces. Place on greased baking sheet.
Bake at 350 deg F for 20 minutes or until browned to your liking (I should have baked this at 400 to bake at 12 minutes but since I baked this along with the coco-cinnamon roll, I used 350. End product seems too light (and uncooked) to my eyes, but actually they are done. My older son can eat two of these at a time.

I think I am gonna submit my coconut-cinnamon roll recipe to a baking contest...huwag nyo ako unahan/agawan...:)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Buttery Ensaymada

I should call this buttery eggyolk-y ensaymada.
I am getting so ensaymada'ed out already I could puke (excuse me!), but I just gotta be able to compare the two recipes which vary only in the fat content (shortening versus butter) and the eggyolks.

Honestly, I cannot really choose between the two recipes (Supersoft using shortening and just whole eggs versus Buttery using butter, of course, and 5 eggyolks in addition to 1 whole egg).

Supersoft has the familiar taste of the ensaymada I used to get from bigger bakeries in PI. By itself (without topping), it is okay, but since it is not sweet, the flavor is greatly enhanced once the topping is there, and a bite becomes heavenly. Lasts 2 days or even 3 without getting tough as long as it is kept in plastic at room temp.

Buttery is strikingly special flavored by itself mainly by its very nature...buttery and yolky. Once with the usual topping, it is as heavenly as supersoft, although it is not the taste I was familiar with when it comes to ensaymada bought from the likes of goldilocks. I have yet to observe how long it lasts. It is still soft after a day even when cold.

Now, since i have made lots of ensaymada dough, I thought I'd use some of it for something else special I can create for the Holidays. I came up with pan de coco-cinni (or Coconut-cinnamon rolls) because I accidentally left a pack of grated coconut on the warm floor when I was rearranging my meats in the freezer). I am not assigned to any of the winter holidays, so I will just bring to the gathering some desserts like this or leche flan or egg pie. I will next post the coconut-cinnamon roll and pan de coco-cinni, which my poor husband had to taste-test last night, and he bit with that familiar closing-of-the-eyes expression for something sooo good.

3+1 +1 + 1 cups bread flour (total 6)
1/2 cup sugar
2 envelopes RapidRise Yeast
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup butter + 1/2 cup softened butter (total 1)
1 cup mashed potato (I used leftovers, with all the flavors -- salt and pepper, butter, and cream)
1 egg
2 + 3 eggyolks (total 5 yolks)
Melted butter (about 1/4 cup) for brushing


Combine 1 cup flour, sugar, undissolved yeast and salt. Heat milk, water and butter until very warm (120º to130ºF). Gradually add to dry ingredients. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed of electric mixer, scraping bowl occasionally. Stir in mashed potato, 1 egg and 2 egg yolks and 1 cup flour; beat 2 minutes at high speed, scraping bowl occasionally. Gradually stir in 3 cups flour to make a stiff batter. Detach dough hook from mixer. Cover dough with the hook loosely with plastic wrap; refrigerate 1 hour. Meanwhile, soften 1/2 cup butter by leaving it out at room temp.

Remove dough from fridge and attach dough hook to mixer. Stir in 3 egg yolks and 1/2 cup softened butter (cut into bits), gradually add 1 cup flour and blend well. Place in greased bowl and cover loosely with plastic and refrigerate for additional 2-24 hours prior to baking (put simply, shape and bake the next day).

Use a GENEROUS amount of flour on the countertop, your hands, and your rolling pin when you start working to shape this dough because it is so STICKY. Shape accordingly (coiled or rolled method -- please see previous post). Brush with (or dip in) melted butter. Let rise for about an hour in a draft-free, warm and preferably moist environment (oven works best - place pans of ensaymada inside, along with a bowl of hot water, turn oven on for one minute then turn off and let the trapped heat hasten the rising. Don't forget to remove from oven once you are ready to bake and you are heating up the oven to the right baking temp.) (This whole batch will probably give you 32-40 pieces depending on the size you want. I suggest you think of ways to use this as master dough for other special desserts/pastries, like pan de coco-cinni up on my next post, or use ube haleya as filling, or make monggo bread which I plan to experiment on sometime later).

Bake at 350 deg F for 12-15 minutes (rotate pans after the first 10 minutes to even out browning) until done and browned to your preference. Take out from oven and brush again with melted butter (helps keep them moist). Enjoy with preferred topping.
If not consuming right away, let cool on wire rack completely then place in ziploc bags without the toppings. For individual servings, zap in microwave for 15 secs, add softened butter, sugar, and cheese. For family servings, cover loosely with foil and bake at 350 deg for 10 minutes.

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UPDATE: 9-07-09
Ritchie made and blogged about these ensaymada buns, saying,
Thank God for Kusina ni Manang she has the recipe for ensaymada (brioche) without too much work. Not that I want to eat ensaymada a lot, but because of the challenge in making it and getting the desired result, it became a monkey on my back, until now. You are da bomb manang.

I left a comment there thinking it was the supersoft, and she emailed me back:
Hi Ritchie,
Thanks for trying my recipe and actually liking it. :)
I presumed it was the supersoft ensaymada that you made?...I edited my post on it to include a link to this post.

Actually, it is the buttery one. OMG, it is the best I have ever made in my life. I gave some to my friends today and they said this is the best they have eaten too...hahaActually, it is the buttery one. OMG, it is the best I have ever made in my life. I gave some to my friends today and they said this is the best they have eaten too...haha

Thanks, Ritchie!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Supersoft Ensaymada

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Manang Kusinera's Supersoft Ensaymada
NOTE as of 03/18/2012:
I finally uploaded a video (no audio) of how I make my supersoft ensaymada because this has become a favorite of many of my readers, as well as mine. Easy to make, super moist and supersoft. Satisfaction guaranteed. :)And if you have doubts, google the image for "supersoft ensaymada" and you will see the images submitted to me by my readers that I have posted under the "Reader's Photo Gallery" label. So to see the video, continue reading/scrolling down the page. Recipe is still on this blog, just read the recipe and watch the video to make it easy to understand how to make this.

This is dedicated to all homemakers like me, who have a life outside of the kitchen...I have tried to make my recipes easy to make and follow, with ingredients easy to find and not gourmet types which you will find in God-only-knows-what-specialty-store (and therefore they are very affordable) and which would not demand your whole day to make (unless you make several batches), yet will give you fulfillment and definitely will wow your friends, brown- or white-skinned. As one of my white co-workers told me after I made her taste a pinch of this roll minus the sugar and butter, "Hmmm, how come your rolls are always moist and pillow soft???".

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Black & White Brownie Cupcakes

I had a box of Ghirardelli brownie mix in the pantry for quite sometime now.
From Black & White Brownie Cupcakes
I bought it because it was on sale. I was thinking last night of what to have for dessert to accompany a New England Boiled Dinner in which I used a pork shoulder for meat. So I was looking at the instructions for this mix and the photo of a variation caught my attention. I thought I'd follow that instead, and I added red wine just 'cause I had two opened red wine bottles that I must consume as fast as I can. My husband got excited and had to lick the dough even as I was placing it in muffin cups. As supper was served, I had a plate of this ready on the table and everyone was looking longingly for them. Nobody was disappointed. It was soooo good!

From Black & White Brownie Cupcakes
1 box Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Brownie Mix
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
(optional) 1 tbsp cabernet sauvignon (red wine)
2 eggs
1 cup (8-oz) cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 deg F. In a medium bowl, stir together brownie mix, water, oil and 1 egg until moistened (about 40 strokes). Line muffin tin with paper cups and lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray. Spoon batter into muffin cups, filling 2/3 full. Using electric mixer, mix cream cheese, sugar, 1 egg and vanilla on medium speed for 1 minutes or until smooth. For each cupcake, place rounded tablespoon of cream cheese mixture on top of batter. Bake 28-32 minutes. Makes 16 cupcakes.

Stir-fried Cabbage and Green Beans

No hard recipes here. I will just tell you a story of how I gave leftover meat a healthy makeover. 

I went on duty the other night with just a sandwich for "supper" to be eaten during my break. I am not really quite satisfied having something so light for "supper" to sustain me the whole 12-hr shift. So when one of my co-workers asked whether I would like to order Chinese food, I said yes. I ordered a D30 combo meal(chicken teriyaki with something ground beef dish,and fried rice, although when I made the order I thought I had veggies there). While the beef tasted good, I was quite overwhelmed with the amount of sauce that I even drained some off it. Imagine, I was using a fork to eat, yet I was still overwhelmed with the sauce. I could aptly call it brown sauce with ground beef.

Anyway, typical of ordered Chinese food, I had enough to feed me for at least two meals. So I brought home my leftovers. I had one skewer of chicken teriyaki left, which I combined with leftover chicken adobo and used for fried rice (ssee my previous post). My leftover ground beef was probably about 1/2 cup, still quite sauce-y. I have always like cooking stir-fried veggies with the sauce of some meaty dishes like adobo and the likes. So, I cooked this meager amount of beef with some frozen green beans and fresh cabbage, and ate that with chicken adobo fried rice. That was my supper the next night I went on duty. I loved it!

So if you are like me who orders Chinese food from time to time, here's some leftover ideas to toy with.

1/2 cup ground beef with brown sauce (don't know what it was really called)
2 tbsp oil
1 medium onion, sliced
handful of green beans
1/4 of a whole cabbage, sliced
1/4 cup sherry
cornstarch-water mix for thickening
additional water as needed
salt and pepper to taste,
sprinkle of ground basil

Sautee onions until translucent. Add the green beans and cook for about 2-3 minutes (depending on how crisp you want it to be). Add cabbage and stir-fry about a minute, add the sherry and let sizzle. Add the leftover beef and sauce. Add some more water as needed for the amount of sauce you want (My green beans were frozen, my harvest from past summer gardening, so they rendered some juice). Adjust taste with salt and pepper. Gradually pour cornstarch-water mixture until the desired consistency is achieved. Sprinkle ground basil and serve hot.

(Thickening the sauce makes it cling more onto the veggies.)

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Chicken Adobo Fried Rice

Any Filipino loves using leftover adobo (if any) for fried rice.
Before my husband and I went out of town for an anniversary celebration (without the kids!), I cooked chicken adobo for them to bring to my in-laws to have for supper. Not that I was worried they would not have anything they would like to eat there, and I was sure my MIL would cook something good for them. It's just that on that day, I finished packing and freezing my chickens and I left one in the fridge for having chicken adobo, but my husband, who was quite concerned that I was already exhausted, offered to bring us out for supper. I did not object. But thinking I did not want to leave the chickens in the fridge for 3 days, I cooked them that night and left instructions for my older son to bring it to my MIL for their supper. Of course, I wanted my in-laws to have a taste of adobo as well.

Since my husband was the breast lover (chicken, that is), I had leftovers mainly of breast meat. I cut them in bite-size pieces and I added the leftover chicken teriyaki from a previously ordered Chinese food. Since I did not have enough adobo sauce, I mixed some soy sauce with water (probably 1/4 cup each) and used that for further seasoning of the rice. When fried rice is prepared this way, as in lots of meat in it, we Filipinos like saying, "Kanin pa lang, ulam na." (Rice itself is a whole dish" since we do not really consider rice alone as a meal by itself, and it has to be accompanied by meat and veggies. Now, even if I was considering adding frozen veggies (carrots and peas) to this, I decided against it because I was going to convert a leftover saucy beef dish into a healthy veggie based stir-fry (up on my next post).

I will not post exact amounts of ingredients; just approximate because everything depends on how much you have.

4 cups of leftover cooked rice
(optional) 2 cloves garlic, minced (I did not add any since I had some still in the adobo sauce)
1 whole chicken breast adobo leftover (or so, this can be forgiving) plus whatever adobo sauce was left
1-2 tbsp oil (may add more depending on the amount of rice and how oily you want it to be. I don't like it too oily, nor too "dry")
soy-sauce water mix (1:1)
kosher salt

Heat wok/pan. Add oil (then garlic, if using). Sautee chicken pieces briefly. Add the rice and stir, stir, stir, until the grains do not clump together too much and are quite coated with some oil. Add the soy sauce-water mixture and stir, stir, stir again. Adjust taste with kosher salt as needed. Continue stirring until heated good (some want the rice to get toasted. We don't.)

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Savory Pot Roast

Here's another dish that makes use of spices (I love spices!)
From savory pot roast
And to save time, I get a packet of McCormick Savory Pot Roast Seasoning. Since this is slowcooked, prep time is short, then I just forget about it while it cooks, then as the aroma fills the house, I get reminded of what we are going to have for supper. One thing I like about McCormick is that, since it mainly uses natural spices, I can't really go wrong with it. Plus, I get a glimpse of how dishes are supposed to taste like per American standards instead of Pinoy standards. While this dish did not taste at all like the typical mechado or caldereta (more tamato-based) beef stews of the Filipinos, we all like the taste of it. We enjoy this usually with slices of freshly baked bread.


3 pounds boneless beef chuck or rump bottom round roast, well trimmed
5 cups cut-up fresh vegetables, such as carrots, celery, onions and potatoes
1 package McCormick® Slow Cookers Savory Pot Roast Seasoning
1 cup red wine or water


1. Place roast and vegetables in slow cooker.
2. Mix Seasoning and red wine until blended. Pour over roast and vegetables. Cover.
3. Cook 8 hours on LOW or 4 hours on HIGH. Remove roast and vegetables to serving platter. Stir sauce before serving.
IMPORTANT: For best results, do not remove cover during cooking.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Shrimp with Chayote (Sayote)

One of my Pinay friends had extra chayote that she purchased from the Asian store and was generous to share them with me.
From shrimp with sayote

One of my favorite dishes to cook with chayote (or sayote) is to sautee it with shrimps. My sons also love them. (Oh please don't ask if my husband liked it. He won't even touch most seafoods!)


2 tbsp oil for sauteeing
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, sliced,
3 medium tomatoes, sliced
1 lb deveined jumbo shrimps
2 chayote, peeled, seed removed, then sliced thinly as shown
1/4 cup sherry or white wine
1 cup water
salt and pepper to taste
some fresh basil leaves for flavor (or sprinkle dry ground basil)


Heat oil on medium high. Sautee garlic for a minute, then onions until translucent, then add tomatoes and cook until they are caramelized. Add both shrimps and chayote and stir for about 1 minute, then add the wine, let sizzle, then add water, salt and pepper, and basil. Cover and let cook for 2 more minutes or until shrimps and chayote are cooked. Serve hot on a bed of plain rice.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Roast Chicken with Baked Potatoes

Last night's supper menu:

Roast Chicken with homemade gravy
Baked Potatoes
French Bread

(No dessert! We usually do not have space in our tummy for dessert after a heavy hearty meal like this). I meant to serve steamed broccoli as well but I totally forgot to prepare it towards the last 30 minutes of baking the chicken, potatoes, and bread.

In preparing these, I started about 3-1/2 hrs prior to my targeted time for meal. The photos in my slideshow below are from my first year of roasting chicken, as I blogged about in my old kusina. I have prepared this numerous times now and I have developed my method to come up with menus that would maximize the use of oven and time.

I used one of our very own homegrown chickens. For the potatoes, I used big Russet potatoes, which might have been 1-pounder each. This is my second attempt at baking potatoes. The first was a disaster in that it was not fully cooked. This time I made sure the potatoes were cooked by baking them for two hours.

I was not quite organized with my how-to's below, because I proceeded as I would with actual preparation.

Roast Chicken:

1 whole garlic, cloves separated
1 tbsp rosemary
1 whole chicken (3-4 lbs)
1 bunch lemongrass
1 whole onion
(optional) 1 lemon rind (use the juice in something else)
coarse kosher salt, sprinkled onto wet chicken skin
garlic salt, sprinkle onto chicken
1 onion, cut into chunks
3 carrots, cut into chunks
1 cup celery stalks cut into chunks
2 bay leaves
10 or so peppercorns
1-1/4 cup water (or enough to cover the veggies)

Roast the garlic cloves (I now use a whole garlic to prepare the paste) for about 7 minutes in the oven toaster (broil setting) or until skin cracks open and you smell the aroma. Make a paste by mashing (I now use the garlic press for that purpose) and add rosemary.

Pre-heat oven to 350 deg F. Separate skin from underlying meat using blunt instruments. Insert some paste underneath and massage over the skin to distribute. Wipe cavity with paper towel and apply garlic paste as well.

Insert lemongrass (tanglad), lemon rind, and whole onion into the cavity. Sprinkle kosher salt all over chicken.

In a baking dish, place the chunks of onion, carrots, and celery. Add the water.

Preferably using a wire rack, place the chicken above the veggies. Cover with foil. Bake at lower 3rd rack of oven for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the french bread in the bread machine.

Once BM has started, start preparing the potatoes.

After 30 minutes has passed since baking chicken, remove foil. If skin is relatively dry now, spray with olive oil and sprinkle garlic salt. Continue baking uncovered for browning.

Baked Potatoes
From baked potatoes

4-5 big Russet potatoes (mine was about almost a pound each)
olive oil, sprayed (can be bought from grocery store)
kosher salt

Wash the potatoes gently with a brush. Pat dry with paper towels. Pierce with fork at 1.5 inch intervals for the steam to escape while baking. Spray with olive oil. Sprinkle all over with kosher salt. Place on a wire rack (cookie cooling rack) then onto a cookie sheet.

When the chicken has been cooking for an hour, reposition to make space and place the potatoes beside the chicken. Set your timer for 1-1/2 hrs to announce baking the french bread.

Once dough cycle of bread machine is over, shape the dough and let rise for about 30 minutes, covered with plastic, in a warm and draft-free place (I just place the pan on the stovetop where steam from chicken being baked keeps the area moist and warm).

For the last 30 minutes of baking (after the 1-1/2 hr alarm), remove chicken from oven, get the liver, and transfer the chicken (using the rack) onto a shallow baking pan to catch drippings while you continue baking. Place chicken back into the oven, then place your french bread on upper third rack of oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes or until brown.

Meanwhile, if you do remember and if you plan to offer steamed broccoli, do so now using a steamer or your cooktop.

Homemade Gravy
Chicken/veggie juice
Chicken drippings
1/4 cup white wine

Prepare your gravy. Remove veggies from pan and transfer to a bowl and keep warm. Place juice, liver and some onions into a small saucepan and let boil. Adjust taste by adding salt and pepper. Thicken with flour-water mixture. Set aside.

Once everything is done and removed from oven, place the chicken back to the original baking pan and surround with the veggies. (Ask your husband and/or children to set the table and slice the bread.)

Pour the white wine onto the 2nd baking pan that caught the chicken drippings (this has the flavor of roasted chicken if the drippings have browned but not burnt). Add this to the prepared gravy and mix well. Transfer to gravy boat.

Going back to the baked potatoes, cut longitudinal slits onto top. Using silicone mitts, press at both ends to crack open at the middle. Put slices of butter on top. You may want to enjoy this with gravy as well.

Have gourmet pepper (using pepper mill) and butter sticks ready on the table.

Enjoy your meal!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Lechon al Horno (Oven Roasted Pork)

I was gonna title it lechon de horno but when I tried to google it,
From lechon de horno
there was not such a (Spanish) phrase. Lechon al horno was the phrase that appeared, and the recipes I saw were all in Spanish. Anyway, this is not a typical lechon because I used a smoked instead of plain pork. Around this time of the year, we usually prepare our freezers for storing our meats. As I posted about earlier, I froze my chickens. Yesterday, I packed and froze some pork, and tomorrow I will have beef. These are supplies for the next year's meat consumption.

My previous supplies of pork and chicken ran out before I had replenishment. But last month my SIL was cleaning out her freezer and gave me lots of pork ham and shoulder, all smoked.

From lechon de horno
I recently picked one that I originally intended to cook a la New England boiled dinner style, but after cooking it for 2-1/2 hours, I decided to grant my hubby's wish to have seafood that night. So I prepared this lechon the next day. There was so much skin and fat on this one (compared to, let's say, the shoulder), that I did not proceed having it as NEbd, and since photos of lechon kept popping into my head, finally I decided to roast the parboiled pork. I looked up instructions on how to prepare this. Since my pork was already boiled (with my usual spices of garlic, peppercorns, bay leaf and coarse kosher salt), I just proceeded with the rest of the preparation to the baking part. I did let the pork drip excess juices, even wiped the skin with paper towel and let it sit on a cookie rack for at least 3 hours out in the garage (40 deg F). Remembering how my brother-in-law in Canada (my sister's hubby) told me how he would roast a pig's head (which he got free from the butcher), I then set the rack to the lowest level and started the heat at highest temp. I sprayed the skin with oil and sprinkled garlic salt generously and roasted the pork for 15 minutes before lowering the temp down to 350 deg F to bake
a closer look
(meat appears red because it is ham/cured)
for additional hours (I lost track! I was instructing my son to start preparing the table, and he asked, "Are you working tonight, Ma? It's only 3:30." Ooops! So I just kinda continued and continued, rotating the pan and brushing it's own oil onto the skin once in a while until I was satisfied that it was crunchy and that it was finally supper time. I probably roasted it for about 3 hours total, but since this was parboiled already, I could have cooked it for about an hour or so only, or when the skin is crunchy all around.)

I prepared gravy using a Knorr mix for pork gravy, and served this lechon with peas, and mashed potatoes/rice. I loved the crunchy skin and the different flavor, it being smoked. However, I could feel my arteries constricting after several cuts of skin even if I removed the fat underneath. I did have some more the next day for lunch and this time I used my favorite dip of vinegar with garlic, which tended to neutralize the effects of the fat.

My husband prefers the New England Boiled Dinner style. But when I told him I was getting sick of preparing pork hams this way, he offered a compromise and suggested we split them into NEbd or lechon. Fine with me!

UPDATE as of 12-21-08:
I prepared this yesterday using a rotisserie. It turned out much better!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Chicken Curry

I just realized I have not made a post about this.
From Chicken curry
The recipe for this one is probably ubiquitous, and versions may be available not only from Filipinos but from other nationalities as well. I will not claim superiority of mine over others'. I am posting for the sake of my children who, one day, will come to this online kusina for guidance on how to cook their favorite foods "the way Mama used to cook them" if and when I will, for some reason, be unavailable.

This dish is another Filipino favorite that has found its way to my husband's tummy and gained approval.

1-1/2 to 2 lbs chicken pieces
oil for browning (or you may render the fat from chicken skin)
3 cloves garlic
2 thumb-size cuts of ginger, sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
curry powder to taste (try 1/4 tsp first)
salt and pepper to taste
(optional)2 tbsp fish sauce (patis)
1 cup chicken broth or water
2 potatoes, cut into chunks
2 carrots, cut into chunks
1 each of red and green bell peppers (or other colors; use only half of each and freeze the rest)
1 (14 oz) coconut milk (Premium)

If using chicken skin, render the fat by boiling the skin in about 1/4 cup water first then chopping them then returning to the pan to render the fat. On medium high heat, sautee garlic and ginger for about 1 minute, follow with onions. When translucent, add chicken pieces and brown all sides briefly (1 minute per side). Add patis if using and let sizzle (or sprinkle some salt) then cover pan, turn heat to medium low and simmer for about 15 minutes. Uncover, turn heat to high and let juices evaporate until you are able to brown the chicken pieces in the oil some more. Add water, potatoes, and carrots and let boil, then lower heat to med high, cover and let simmer for another 10 minutes or until potatoes and carrots start to become tender. Add the coconut milk and bell peppers, sprinkle curry powder and let simmer uncovered, occasionally stirred, until coconut milk becomes creamy. Adjust taste with salt and pepper and additional curry powder as needed. Serve with plain rice. (Hubby likes this only with freshly baked bread.)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Easy Spiced Cabernet Chocolate Molten Cakes

This is not a repeat post. It is an another recipe for
From Molten Spiced Chocolate Cabernet Cakes
a molten lava cake. Shortly after I made the kraftfoods' version, I saw this in a McCormick ad in bon appetit magazine, and I was intrigued because of the addition of red wine - cabernet sauvignon. I have always been fascinated with the flavors of foods cooked/baked with wine, so I tried this one out. It was good, too, but lacking immediate comparison between the two recipes, I could not really tell if it was better. But since now I have a whole bottle of red wine to use, I probably will make this more often, aside from using the red wine in beef recipes.

4 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 tablespoon Cabernet Sauvignon or other red wine
1 teaspoon McCormick® Pure Vanilla Extract
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
6 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Butter 4 (6-ounce) custard cups or soufflé dishes. Place on baking sheet.

2. Microwave chocolate and butter in large microwavable bowl on HIGH 1 minute or until butter is melted. Whisk until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in wine, vanilla and confectioners' sugar until well blended. Whisk in eggs and yolk. Stir in remaining ingredients. Pour batter evenly into prepared custard cups.

3. Bake 13 to 15 minutes or until sides are firm but centers are soft. Let stand 1 minute. Carefully loosen edges with small knife. Invert cakes onto serving plates. Sprinkle with additional confectioners' sugar. Serve immediately.

Make Ahead: The chocolate mixture can be prepared up to 10 hours ahead of time. Pour the batter into prepared custard cups; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature for 30 minutes before baking.
Type rest of the post here

Corned Beef

As a Filipina who grew up in the Philippines, my favorite corned beef was the Argentina brand. All I knew of corned beef then was that it came canned. I was surprised when my MIL once handed this slab of corned beef. I just had to look up on the internet what really was corned beef, and here's my answer:

"Old-time butcher shops closed every weekend. Ice, the only refrigerant available, could not dependably hold fresh meat for two days. To keep unsold meat from going to waste, the butcher soaked the meat in a strong brine or covered it with coarse salt to trigger osmosis. The grains of salt were called "corn" in England, and the name "corned beef" stuck with the product.

Corning is a form of curing; it has nothing to do with corn. The name comes from Anglo-Saxon times before refrigeration. In those days, the meat was dry-cured in coarse "corns" of salt. Pellets of salt, some the size of kernels of corn, were rubbed into the beef to keep it from spoiling and to preserve it.

Today brining -- the use of salt water -- has replaced the dry salt cure, but the name "corned beef" is still used, rather than "brined" or "pickled" beef. Commonly used spices that give corned beef its distinctive flavor are peppercorns and bay leaf. Of course, these spices may vary regionally."

Source: carnegiedeli.com

So, I asked my hubby how they usually prepare this one (any Filipino would know a different way of enjoying canned corned beef -- sauteed with garlic and onions). Apparently they prepare this only as New England Boiled Dinner. Translated to Filipino cooking: "Nilaga" with the typical veggies potatoes, carrots, and cabbage. So that was how I prepared this slab of corned beef. It was different but very good! We did have a lot of leftover (this slab could feed two or three families!). So, I tried to mimic the corned beef I knew by shredding then sauteeing with some veggies as shown.

For those who might be interested, corned beef slabs are available in grocery stores.

I remember another thing I used to do with Argentina corned beef -- as filling for the dough used for pan de coco. I used to just mix chopped medium onion with 1 small can of Argentina corned beef, then proceed with using this as filling before I bake the rolls. I used to sell them when I was still going to school, and they were always sold out.

I still miss Argentina corned beef...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Bread Pudding

There is a lot of bread pudding recipes out there.
From Bread Pudding
This is a revised recipe from one I learned back when I was still in Medicine days. I used a recipe by Milkmaid, which originally called for coffee granules, but which I omitted simply because I like the taste better without it. I used to sell these to my classmates back then. I would make an 8 x 8 in and cute them into 9 (small) squares, and I sold them P8/piece to make a profit that would cover my labor. Despite being quite pricey, they were always sold out! I steamed them, but now that I have an oven to use, I bake them using a water bath. I still love them to this time, and I made them for the first time here. My sons love them. My hubby did not, which did not surprise me, as he is not a big fan of custard, and this recipe is based on leche flan ingredients.

Like I mentioned earlier, I had been experimenting with using the microwave for caramelizing sugar. I used an 8 x 8 in baking glass dish for this and it took forever to caramelize the 1-cup sugar I placed in it. (I probably won't do that again!).

As I said in my previous post about custard cake, I used the rest of the leche flan mixture for this purpose. I only added shredded bread (8 slices, edges removed), maraschino cherries, sliced almonds (small pack), and several drops of almond extract. (If you are going to try this, and have the whole leche flan mixture available, you might have to add two more slices. The bread pieces should be soaked with some more liquid in excess so as to come up with moist, not dry, bread pudding.)


Prepare caramelized pan. Cut maraschino cherries in two, and place each half at the middle of each piece (i.e., 9 pieces if cut into 3x3). Let cherries sit to set.

Shred bread pieces and soak in the flan mixture for at least 30 minutes (you may leave in the fridge overnight).

Pre-heat oven to 350. Carefully pour on top of each cherry half a ladle-full of pudding mixture. Once every cherry is covered, pour the rest of the pudding into the pan making sure it is well distributed. Put the pan in a larger baking pan to have water bath, with water level up to half the sides of the smaller pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until set. Test with a toothpick inserted at the center. Cool on wire rack for about 10 minutes. Loosen sides and invert onto a platter.

If you are going to try this steamed, use medium high heat to steam for 30 minutes or until set. As usual, cover with foil when steaming.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


I spent the whole day yesterday packing a
From Food Saver
whole year supply of chickens. My MIL raised them (we provided the money for buying the chicks and grains). We had a total of 32 which we brought to a slaughter house yesterday. As soon as I came home from my interview at another hospital, I spent the rest of my day packing. Packing itself was not tedious. I found it most tasking to clean the gizzards (made me wish i did not ask for those).Now I have fresh supply of chicken roasters. I cut up the smaller chickens for such meals as adobo or tinola (the whole ones I can also cut up later if I have to). I have chicken necks in groups of 6-8, perfect for arroz caldo. The gizzards and hearts I plan to cook adobo style, slow cooked. And of course, Adidas will have to be slow cooked as well...
Freezer full of frozen goods

Tips on freezing:

Freeze as soon as chickens are slaughtered. Make sure you have clean surfaces. I worked them in batches, keeping the rest of the chickens out in the garage where it was cold, and had my hubby throw ice cubes on them while I was still at the interview.

Use freezer grade paper or plastic. I used FoodSaver. I was quite surprised that my biggest chicken could fit in it, although I had some difficulty, but was successful with maneuvering. The less air in, the better. That's why I prefer vacuum packing. Prevents freezer burn.

Place in the freezer right away. Avoid fluctuations in temperatures. Especially avoid prolonging them inside where it is room temp; in that case, try to work quickly so you can place them in the freezer ASAP.

If bag improperly seals because of too much juices from the meat, try to freeze first for 3 hours while in the freezer bag (to solidify the juices) before sealing.

(Filipino) Custard Cake

One of my favorite merienda back when I was still
From Custard Cake
working in PI in a busy Pasay-Makati area, this Custard Cake (Filipino style) was available in the nearby cheap bakeries, NOT in the more expensive ones, yet I loved it. It tasted good and was very affordable. My mother used to make them too when we had our own bakery, although when I ask my Nanay now for how-to's and recipes, she cannot recall anymore because of lack of practice.

In the past few days I had been experimenting with caramelizing sugar using microwave , then I could not take my mind off of what to do with my mini baking pans with caramel. I was considering preparing flans, or making bread pudding, or trying this custard cake. One morning that I woke up too early for my interview at another hospital, I (crazily) proceeded with baking these (and was done in time for preparation for my interview). I did not come up with the familiar taste I would have wanted to recreate, but I got approval from my kids and (most importantly) my hubby, so I will stick to this recipe from now on.

For the flan topping:
Caramelized pan
Leche flan mixture enough to create thin layers of flan for topping (I will show you later what to do with the rest of the leche flan mixture, aside from making them into leche flan)

Pre-heat the oven to 350 deg F. Put caramelized pans into bigger pans with water enough to cover the sides of your smaller pans up to the level of leche flan. Pour a thin layer of leche flan ONLY WHEN THE OVEN IS READY. Bake the flan for 15-20 minutes (depends on how hot the water you use for water bath) until flan is jelly-like wiggly at the center. Meanwhile, prepare your ingredients for the cake.

For the yellow pound cake:(I followed the instructions at the side of the box)
From Custard Cake
1 box Yellow cake mix
1 small vanilla instant pudding and pie filling mix
4 eggs
1 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil

Combine dry ingredients in one big bowl. Combine the liquid ingredients in another bowl. MIX ONLY WHEN FLAN IS READY. Beat these together for two minutes at medium speed then pour on top of baked flan. Continue baking these for 25-50 minutes depending on what size pan you used (I made small ones the size of custard cups and a bigger one in an 8-inch round pan so I had two different baking times).

Once done, let rest on a cooling rack for about 10 minutes. Loosen the sides with a spatula and invert onto a plate (or a bigger pan).

Now for your own preference, maybe instead of the pound cake recipe (I found this too heavy for me), you might want to experiment with plain yellow cake.

Please see a similar and very creative post made by MaMely. Yummy!

Caramelizing Sugar Using Microwave

The daring me...I experimented again with the microwave and tried to caramelize sugar using microwave,
From microwave-caramelized sugar
mainly because there are times I want to put caramelized sugar in small pans and make small individual servings of leche flan. I started experimenting using different power settings. After the 6th attempt, I have a final recipe for making an individual caramel-lined ramekin.

Place two heaping (ordinary) spoonfuls of sugar into the ramekin (I used glass custard cups; Pyrex or Anchor Hocking. DO NOT USE PLASTICS. Sugar can get very hot and will melt plastic containers.). Microwave on high for 1 min 30 seconds then continue in 30 second increments until you see some bubbling begins. From this point, you have to continue microwaving in increments of 10 seconds while stirring with a fork or chopstick in between to avoid scorching/burning at that hot spot (notice in my photo there was one that had darker look. If you want your caramel a bit bitter as if there was some coffee, you might like it this way). After about a total of 4 minutes you will have perfectly golden caramel. USE OVEN MITTS to handle cups. Be careful not to drop caramelized sugar on your skin; it causes second degree burns. I know, because I had them. :)

I did try it on a bigger pan and was not too pleased at the prolonged microwaving time. So I will use this microwave method only for smaller ramekin.

UPDATE as of 2-04-9:
I tried to caramelize 1 cup in a pyrex measuring cup, high power, initially for 5 minutes but I was watching it closely. As soon as it starts melting at one point, stir, then zap and stir at intervals of 30 seconds. By the end of 5 minutes total, I had a perfectly caramelized sugar ready to pour in a round foil pan (downside to foil pan, if it hardens before you distribute, you can't zap to make it fluid again). Better pour in a round baking glass or ceramic pan which you can zap again in case you have to).

What did I end up doing with them? I made custard cakes for the small ones and bread pudding for the larger one(up on my next post...)

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Classic Boston Cream Pie

No, it was not a "Boston" fever for me (having just recently prepared Boston baked beans).
From Boston Cream Pie
It just so happened that I was looking at different chocolate recipes from a Hershey's book to prepare for celebrating Nov 8th. I was planning to make a Florida citrus cake that my co-worker recently brought to work and that I loved, but I asked hubby first.

Me: Honey, would you be interested in a lemon-type cake that I can prepare for our anniversary?
Him: Nah...I am not fond of lemon cakes. Yellow cake with chocolate frosting would be good, though.
Me: Or maybe you would prefer chocolate cake with chocolate frosting?...
Him: That would be even better.

Well, thinking that he was probably referring to the boxed yellow cake and Duncan chocolate frosting when he mentioned that that was what he would like, I was not really looking forward to preparing something from the box when it was a special occasion. Although we plan to go out of town this coming week for a major celebration (no kids!!!), I did want to prepare something special (as in, from scratch) on the day itself.

So I was browsing through the photos in that Hershey's book and this Classic Boston Cream Pie caught my attention. It did look close enough to a yellow cake with chocolate frosting, but it has something else that I LOVE: custard. However, my husband is not a fan of custard like my leche flan (though he likes the custard in eclair, and had been hinting for years that he would love to have those). So, on the day before our anniversary...

Me: Honey, would you be interested in Boston Cream Pie?
Him: Sure. My grandmother used to make those.

Ok, I got the go signal, although his response somewhat appeared lukewarm to me (it might have been because he was tired. He and the boys had been splitting and piling wood, while I cleaned out the upright freezer in preparation for our fresh meat supplies for the coming year).

When it was finally done and served, hubby's face was priceless. He even closed his eyes to savor his slice. Mmmmm...

My boys, needless to say, loved it. Older boy said, "Ma, are we having Christmas or Thanksgiving here? You should make this and show off, errr, ah, let them taste this." Younger son said, "Yeah, Ma, this is really good! Mmmm!!!"

1/3 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup milk

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour one 9-inch round baking pan.

2. Beat shortening, sugar, eggs and vanilla in large bowl until fluffy. Stir together flour, baking powder and salt; add alternately with milk to shortening mixture. Pour batter into prepared pan.

3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted into center comes our clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely.

4. Prepare RICH FILLING. Using long serrated knife, cut cake horizontally into two even layers. Place 1 layer on serving plate, cut side up; spread filling over layer. Top with remaining layer, cut side down. Prepare DARK COCOA GLAZE. Pour glaze over top of cake, allowing glaze to drizzle down sides. Refrigerate several hours or until cold. Cover; refrigerate leftover dessert. 8 to 10 servings.

1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1-1/2 cups milk
2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Stir together sugar and cornstarch in medium saucepan; gradually add milk and egg yolks, stirring until blended. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Boil and stir 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in butter and vanilla. Cover; refrigerate several hours until cold.

3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
3 tablespoons HERSHEY'S Cocoa
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat water and butter in small saucepan over medium heat until mixture begins to boil; remove from heat. Immediately stir in cocoa. Gradually add powdered sugar and vanilla, beating with whisk until smooth; cool slightly. About 3/4 cup glaze.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Gadget to Make Empanada Easier

I have posted way earlier in my old kusina about how I made empanadas.
From empanada
Several years later, I am posting this now to show how I made it easier using a dough/dumpling/empanada press, and of course, coming up with more presentable empanadas.

How I make pie crust can be found here.

How I make my empanada filling can be found here.

This is basically a short description of how I make my empanadas nowadays. In using the dough press to shape the circles, use a bigger one as the dough may shrink back once you lift it up. Then use the right size dough to place this on and the filling. You will have some extra dough to pinch off this way.

After several times of making this, I have come up with some more tips:

1. Use plastic to cover dough while rolling. It makes flipping easier.
2. Sprinkle flour from time to time to lessen stickiness.
3. Make sure your dough is quite chilled and not room temp before rolling. It tends to be less sticky, and it tends to help preserve the flakiness. So to do this, take out some dough and leave some while you work on your first batch.
4. The eggwash will make your floury dough seal. Without it, the flour will prevent sealing. The while baking, eggwash makes your empanadas appear golden.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Butter-fried Scallops

One of the three seafood items my husband will eat
From scallops
(and actually loves)...When we do eat at one of our fave restaurants, if he orders scallops, they are the usual batter-coated deep-fried ones, and I usually order the baked with honey and butter ones. This recipe is not an attempt to copy the restaurant recipes. It actually is the way my MIL prepares scallops at home, and I copied her for the love of my hubby. :)

1-1/2 to 2 lbs scallops
1 stick butter
enough flour to dredge scallops

heat on med high one big or two medium sized iron pan (enough to cook all scallops just at one time. (If you cook more than one batch, the butter tends to make the subsequent batches blackish instead of golden brown). Melt butter and quickly try to dredge the scallops and place on pan. Cook each side (top and bottom) 1-2 minutes. I usually serve these on the pan itself with all the melted butter. Do not overcook.

Thursday, November 06, 2008


One of my husband's favorites, he tells me,
From chili
"Honey, you make the best chili." My reply: "Thanks to McCormick."

I like preparing chili when I have to go to work (night shift). I usually start thawing 2 lbs ground beef at night. Then in the morning, I prepare it as directed on the package of McCormick Chili seasoning. By suppertime, I just have to have shredded cheddar cheese (or 4-cheese mexican shredded cheese) available as topping (I add chopped onions for myself).

2 pound lean ground beef
2 packages McCormick® Chili Seasoning Mix, Original or 1 package McCormick® Chili Seasoning Mix 30% Less Sodium
2 cans (15 ounces) kidney beans, drained
2 cans (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
2 cans (8 ounces) tomato sauce

1. Cook ground beef in large skillet on medium-high heat 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain fat.

2. Place in 3-qt slow cooker. Stir in Seasoning Mix and remaining ingredients. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream and chopped onion, if desired.

Chicken Broccoli Cheese Casserole

My husband mentioned one time about liking
From Chicken-Brocolli Cheese Casserole
this type of dish which his ex used to cook, and told me (He had the nerve to tell me!) he should ask her for the recipe. Of course he (the typical man that he is) forgot about it, but I went ahead and groped my way through making my own recipe. Very simple and easy, we all love it. He basically spoon-fed to me the ingredients: chicken, broccoli florets, Velveeta cheese. I just added what I felt I had to, and cooked it the way I imagined it. This is one of my favorite dish to prepare if I am going to work. I am posting while having a slow time at work, so I am guessing at the proportions as I try to recall how much I use. Make sure you use a baking dish deep enough for this.

From Chicken-Brocolli Cheese Casserole

1 tbsp oil
1-1/2 lb chicken breasts (or 1 lb, depending on how many are eating; this is for 5 people) cut into bite-size
1 lb frozen broccoli florets
(Please take a look at the photo for the sizes of the cans)
1 can Cream of Chicken
1 can Broccoli Cheese condensed soup
1 package of stuffing prepared as directed on label
Sprinkle of Parmesan Cheese
1/4 oz (?- kindly check the lines on the foil wrap, just one small block/line) Velveeta cheese, cut into small pieces
Sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese


Preheat oven to 400 deg F. Heat oil and brown chicken then place in the baking dish. Add broccoli florets, cream of chicken, and broccoli cheese condensed soup; mix well. Scatter the Velveeta pieces; top with stuffing and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Zyliss Mandolin Slicer; Ground Beef with Green Beans and Corn

This is one of my most useful gadgets/toys in the kitchen.

I use it for mainly making bread and butter pickles, for slicing any vegetable thinly, espcially carrots, cukes, onions. It uses manpower, so less use of electricity, more exercise for the arms.

Last summer, I had lots of green beans and sweet corn that I would harvest daily (kapagod! That's why I told my husband I don't feel like having a veggie garden next year. He said, "Ok, then we will only have cukes and corn. No more tomatoes or beans." Ngek!)

From ground beef with corn and green beans
Well, my kids are not particularly fond of green beans (I love them in bulalo or anything nilaga), until I cooked them this way (which I used to cook back in PI when I was tasked by my aunt/maid as the slicer in the kitchen).

1 lb ground beef (I browned, seasoned with salt and pepper, separated some for my husband's consumption as he likes them plain served with potatoes and broccoli)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, sliced
3 small tomatoes, sliced
2 handfuls of green beans, sliced thinly as shown (quite time-consuming, but the mandolin makes it easier and faster)
1 cup sweet corn kernels (or 1 12-oz can, drained)
some water
basil to taste
salt and pepper to taste

Brown beef; drain excess fat. Add garlic until aromatic, then add onion until translucent. Sprinkle some salt and pepper. Toss the tomatoes in and stir until tomatoes have caramelized. Add the green beans, corn, and some water (maybe 1/4 to 1/2 cup). Let simmer uncovered for 2 minutes. Season with basil. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Monday, November 03, 2008

My Visitors and My Kids...My Inspirations

I seldom have comments on my posts...I do receive emails once in a while. Now that the blogworld is saturated with bloggers, it is quite hard to have an audience that sticks with me. What do I get from blogging anyway?...

As I have said before, I started blogging as a way to make use of my time, and to make myself useful to the society, to somehow lift my self-esteem up especially at the time I was unemployed. It has been a fun ride. I have met (and helped?) a lot of people online.

I do get some from ads since I signed up for them. But what I get from these in 10 months I can earn in one day work as an RN.

So what motivates me? An occasional note of thanks and praise via comment or email does tons. When I do not have any, I have found a way to keep me motivated.

I signed up for statcounter.com a long time ago, but had not been logging on it
From stats
during my more busy RN days so I had forgotten my PW. I recently signed up for a new one and started the # with what I had on my blogs. Interesting to see people getting to my blogs either directly (as in they bookmarked me already) or via google/yahoo search using keywords such as "kusina", "kusina ni manang" or "pandesal", ensaymada, chicken afritada, beef pares, beef asado, siopao, pichi-pichi, etc. Interesting to see "first time visitors" turn to "returning visitors" in the following days. Photos here are snapshots of my visitors both at my new and old kusinas.
From stats
I find it very amusing that I have seen stat map showing visitors in Alaska, Pakistan, South Africa and other less likely places. Seems like there are a lot of Filipinos/Filipinas searching for some of these Filipino goodies.

I guess these stats are enough to keep me motivated.
From stats
Sometimes I am just not sure whether what I post is still interesting to my readers. And whether how I post is the right way to keep them coming back, whether for old posts or new ones.

Then my ultimate motivator is knowing my kids can refer to these pages in the future when they get to the age (or situation) when they will have to prepare foods by themselves. Sometimes they, especially my older son, would even initiate and actually told me that baking/cooking is quite interesting. I tell my boys, they are good looking not only by Western Standards but also by Filipino standards, and they are quite intelligent (not nerdy types, though); knowing how to cook and bake on top of those will surely make girls ga-ga over them.

Boston Baked Beans & Brown Bread

I admit, I don't always cook. During those times, my husband woiuld just take
From boston baked beans
whatever he finds appealing in the pantry. One of his fave canned foods is the baked beans, served with brown bread. My stepd would only eat the beans. Both of them like to eat these with hotdogs. I would eat same but only because so he has someone to share that with. My sons don't like them; they'd rather eat whatever leftovers we have. I'd like to eat what I could before giving the rest to the pigs/chickens.

This baked beans reminds me of Hunt's "pork and beans" back in the Philippines, although that one is more tomato-based, and maybe because I grew up with that, I preferred it over this baked beans.

One time my MIL invited us over for supper, and she prepared baked beans. That was the first time I tasted the homemade baked beans, and I LOVED IT! My husband also loved it, and there really is no comparison between the homemade one and the canned one.
brown bread

Now with our annual trip to Greenville, I saw last year the specific pot used for this purpose in an Indian store, and I vowed to get it the next time we went there, which was late this fall (when all red/orange leaves have fallen off the trees), especially that the sight-seeing purpose of the trip was lost already. I at least should get that pot. And I cooked this for the first time. I asked my husband to
dry mustard
soak the navy/pea beans that night around 9 pm while I was at work and told him to soak with enough water to allow for the beans' expansion. Silly me, I did not check the recipe. It specified 6 cups! So I ended up estimating the amount of water to boil the beans in, and kinda ended up with a soupy dish, which my husband told me he loved better (than drier), and even loved it more the next day when he was eating the leftover. I still served it up with brown bread (which my husband suggested when I mentioned I wanted to make baked beans.) One thing funny as well was when I went to the grocery store to pick up the ingredients and had a hard time finding the dry mustard, and I guessed it was the powdered mustard as there was nothing else that was dry. Good thing I guessed it right!

I used the smoked pork fat back (which I also used for my chicharon) and I loved the effect. Now I just gotta get my kids to start acquiring the taste for baked beans.

This recipe is found in a card that was tied to the beanpot. I made a point of copying that onto this page so that I will not have a hart time looking for it if I lose that card (which is so easy to do!)
Official Recipe:
For 2-1/2 qt Boston Beanpot
Bake at 300 deg for 3-1/2 hours
Serves 8

1 package (1 lb) navy or pea beans
1/4 pound salt pork, cut in 2 pieces (I used 3/4 lb smoked pork fat back)
1 small whole onion, peeled
1 tsp dry mustard
8 cups water
1/3 cup molasses
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp pepper


1. Soak beans overnight in a large suace pan in 6 cups of water. Add baking soda. Heat to boiling and simmer 10 minutes. Drain in colander ove a large bowl. Save liquid.

2. Place beans, salt pork and onion in the beanpot. Add molasses, salt, sugar, dry mustard, pepper and a cup of water. Stir thoroughly. Add enough water to cover the beans. Cover the beanpot.

3. Bake 2 hours at 300 degrees. Add the rest of the water and stir again. Bake additioanl 1-1/2 hours (or until beans are tender.) Uncover last 1/2 hour.

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