"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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Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Fresh Loaf

Because of correspondence with sharon, I was introduced to "The Fresh Loaf." It is a wonderful site for those aspiring newbie bakers, as the members comprise not only of newbies but also of artisan bakers so that exchange of recipes, tips and information abound...very helpful indeed.

I probably will post there some of my other Filipino goodies just so to expose more of our culture's baked delights.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Sinigang na Bangus (Milkfish in Sour Soup) with Cucumber and Cabbage

From sinigang na bangus

I cooked this sinigang na bangus one summer day when I had too much cucumbers and we (my family) have been getting sick of having cuke slices every supper, and I had made all the pickles I wanted to make. I just experimented cooking the cucumbers and as I envisioned, it went very well with sinigang na bangus, perfect replacement for eggplant or radish. It absorbs the tamarind flavor of the soup really well.

1 big milkfish (probably 1$1/2 to 2 lbs), cleaned and degutted
enough water to cover (probably about 5 cups or more, adjust when you have placed the fish already)
1 big onion, cut in half
3-5 tomatoes, cut in half
5 black peppercorns
about 2-3 tbsp sliced ginger
1 packet tamarind flavoring (or less, if you don't like it too sour)
salt to taste
cabbage (about 1/4 head)
2-3 cucumbers cut into wedges/chunks

Boil water with ginger, onion, peppercorns, 1 tsp of salt and tomatoes for at least 15 minutes or until tomatoes are really really macerated and soup is reddish already (this maximizes the flavor of tomatoes in the soup and adds sourness as well).

Add tamarind flavoring to your taste. Add fish and let simmer on mod low heat for 5 minutes. Add veggies and let simmer uncovered for additional 5 minutes or until veggies are done. Season with salt as necessary (I just sprinkle patis later on when eating.)

Enjoy with plain rice. Love the effect of cukes here.

Lemon-Pepper Grilled Salmon

Salmon has become my older son's favorite fish because "it's got real flavor unlike the haddock which does not taste anything at all to me."

I myself like salmon, especially when grilled. Actually, I almost always cook salmon this way, with only the basic of ingredients, then enjoyed with rice and some slices of ripe tomatoes sprinkled with salt.

I usually cook just half of the fillet (with intact skin), which will be all I and
my two sons can eat during a meal time (husband does not like salmon; too strong a flavor for him). Whereas before I cooked salmon on a iron griddle placed atop the stovetop, now I use the George Foreman grilling machine (small one, probably costs <$20 nowaadays). The cooking time is less since it cooks both sides at the same time (max 6 minutes depending on how thick the fillet is) and tends to close in the heat; clean up is easier; and I don't have to worry about flipping the fish over. To clean, I just let the machine cool down a bit, wipe it with non-abrasive slightly soapy dish sponge while still warm, then rinse with a bit of water, careful not to get water inside the machine (I hold it sideways).

1/2 salmon fillet (actually amount depends on you)

Spices -- see slideshow so you know what I mean


Sprinkle fillet with garlic salt, approximating how much you need for the amount of fish you have.

Generously sprinkle with lemon-pepper to really cover the whole surface. Let sit for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, plug in the grilling machine.

When hot, spray or brush the grilling surface with oil.

Place the fillet on the grill and let cook for 4 to 6 minutes. (Fish is done when flaky all the way. Do not overcook!) For this piece, I had to turn around the fish after the first 4 minutes to cook the thin part further, as it was not touched by the upper grill. The closed-in heat further cooked that when turned around.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sweet Potato Pockets

Sweet Potato Pockets is my 5th and final entry for the NC Sweet Potatoes contest.

I made these sweet potato pockets as snack version of the Sweet Potato Bake wrapped around by the dough of Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls. One or two pieces make for a perfect solution to a hungry tummy in between meals. It is almost like hopia.

I would like to thank sweetbytes for this contest and giving us a boost to explore the possibilities of sweet potatoes.

Filling from Sweet Potato Bake
Dough from Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls
Egg wash (1 egg beaten + 1 tbsp milk)


The slide show pretty much explains what to do. Place the leftover sweet potato bake in a ziploc bag and cut one corner so you will squeeze this out when you fill the dough.

Cut the dough into several pieces until you have about pingpong-sized ones. Flatten each piece with the heel of your hand, and put about 1 tbsp or so of the sweet potato bake filling.

Gather the edges of the dough and seal. Roll in between your palms to get an oblong shape. Place on greased baking pan and let rise for about 30 minutes in a draft-free moist and warm environment (like inside an oven that is warmed up for 1 minute). Brush with egg wash and create slits using a sharp blade. Bake at 350 deg F for 12 minutes.

Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls

Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls is my 4th entry for the NC Sweet Potatoes contest. I would like to thank sweetbytes for this contest and giving us a boost to explore the possibilities of sweet potatoes.

Since I and a lot of my site visitors have liked the supersoft ensaymada recipe which uses regular potatoes, I thought I'd try using the sweet potatoes this time, with only a slight variation in the recipe - I omitted the feta cheese and one egg, and used 4 yolks instead of 3. Then I kneaded the dough before resting it inside the fridge. This dough can be prepared a day ahead, kept in the fridge to rise, shaped only when ready to bake. Or can be frozen for use a week after.

What resulted of my sweet potato cinnamon roll was one that was super soft, smooth, and had the nice yellowish color imparted by the extra yolks and, of course, the sweet potatoes. Instead of turning this dough into another ensaymada, I used it to make a more popular type of sweet bread that is more commonly known amongst Americans; hence I present to you Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls (at least, that's what I made of the first 1/3 of the dough I made. Then I made 1/3 into Sweet Potato Pockets, and the remaining 1/3 went into the freezer formed into a log, which I will later make into sweet potato version of supersoft ensaymada. After enjoying the cinnamon rolls, I think this is even better than the one I made for supersoft ensaymada.

5 cups bread flour (separate 1 + 1 + 3)
1/2 cup sugar
2 envelopes Fleischmann’s RapidRise Yeast
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup water
2/3 cup shortening
1 cup mashed sweet potato
1 egg
4 egg yolks
softened butter (about 1/2 stick)
cinnamon-sugar mixture (1/4 cup granulated sugar + 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon)
melted butter (about 1/2 stick)


Combine 1 cup flour, sugar, undissolved yeast and salt. Heat milk, water and shortening 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 sweet potato, egg and 1 cup flour; beat 2 minutes at high speed, scraping bowl occasionally. Stir in remaining flour to make a soft batter. Place on a floured surface and knead for about 8 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes covered with cling wrap.

Mix in 4 egg yolks into the dough. Refrigerate at least 2 hours prior to shaping.

Divide dough into 3 (Note: Dough is sticky so generously flour the surface). (1/3 will be used for another recipe; the other 1/3 will be frozen as a log for another type of roll to be prepared about a week later).

For 1/3 of this dough, flatten with a rolling pin about 8 inches x 12 inches. Brush surface with softened butter. Sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar mixture, sparing the edges for sealing. Roll tightly from the long end.

Butter-grease a baking pan.

Using dough cutter, with swift moves, slice the log's ends off, and cut every 1 inch to 1-1/2 inches. Dip bottom in melted butter. Place on pan. Do the same for all pieces. Brush the sides and tops with melted butter. Let rise for at least 30 minutes.

Bake at 375 deg F for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the frosting.

5 tbsp softened butter
3 cups powdered/confectioner's sugar
2 tbsp half n half (or milk)

Beat with hand mixer the softened butter and sugar. When crumbly, add half and half by increments of 1 tbsp (I probably used 3-4 tbsp only). Continue beating and adding the half and half until you achieve the desired consistency.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Sweet Potato Bake

Sweet Potato Bake is my 3rd entry for the NC Sweet Potatoes contest. I would like to thank sweetbytes for this contest and giving us a boost to explore the possibilities of sweet potatoes.

I did not realize that such a contest can really unleash creativity in me! Well, I cannot really claim full credit to my creations, as I get ideas from all over the internet (where else?)

But the inspiration for this dessert came from a camote (white sweet potato) dessert that my brother, who was then a chief baker in Ji-Pan in the Philippines, would bring home from time to time. I was the number 1 fan of that delightful dessert. I remember asking him how they made it. His answer was a simple: "Just boil the sweet potatoes, mash and add condensed milk, then bake."

Basing on those, I then tried to recreate my version using the orange-colored sweet potatoes here, mixed with condensed milk, and I added rum flavor, vanilla, and chopped pecans. But instead of boiling the sweet potatoes, I microwaved them (an idea I got from CWD, which I preferred over boiling to minimize water.) I noticed this particular type of sweet potatoes are less sweet than what I had in the Philippines, and absorb more water when boiled. Microwaving was a preferable way of "boiling" them before mashing.

I and my sons liked it, but quite honestly, a serving was more than what I could tolerate...it was too heavy! Maybe I should have used smaller sweet potatoes, or just scooped small portions into small baking cups. I ended up with leftovers, which I turned into another recipe entry.

4 sweet potatoes (9-11 oz each)
1 (14-oz) condensed milk
4 egg yolks (my leftover from making sans rival)
few drops rum flavor (McCormick)
1 tsp vanilla
2-oz chopped pecans
egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp milk)


1. Cook the sweet potatoes in the microwave. I did them in batches of two. I placed water in a bowl first, then placed paper towels to soak. Then I cut cling wrap about 1 foot long, placed one wet paper towel there, then wrapped one sweet potato with the wet paper towel, followed by tight wrapping with the cling wrap, finalized with another layer of cling wrap. After I had made two sweet potatoes this way, I started microwaving them while I wrapped the remaining two the same way. My microwave has automatic settings for potatoes, so I clicked on that, and I turned on my timer so I could keep track of how long it took to cook them -- around 8 minutes. By the time it beeped to herald the end of cooking time, I checked with toothpick for doneness (they were done!) then cooked the second batch.

2. Careful not to burn your hands, unwrap the cooked sweet potatoes, cut in half, and taking care not to damage the skins, scoop out the pulp with a spoon.

3. When all sweet potatoes are gathered, add the rest of ingredients and mash or puree together. Fold in the chopped pecans.

4. Transfer to a big microwaveable bowl. Microwave for about 2 minutes, then stir and continue cooking in the microwave, stirring every minute until cooked (no longer smooth looking).

5. Scoop back the cooked sweet potatoes into the skins. Smooth out top, and paint with egg wash.

4. Broil for 3-5 minutes or until top had browned some.

5. Serve with (or without) maple syrup or caramel.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Adobong Asparagus

I have no easy access to kangkong (water spinach) where I am now. But I do have a craving for this vegetarian recipe from time to time, especially when I feel I have too much baggage around my waistline, hehe...

So one day I cooked adobong asparagus for lunch. One bunch of asparagus was too much for lunch. So I had leftovers which my older son saw and tasted as soon as he got home. He told me, "This is good, Ma! It tastes familiar." I reminded him about adobong kangkong which we used to have back in the Philippines. "O, now I remember!" was his reply.

It was sooo good, in fact, that I probably will not anymore buy kangkong from a store two-hour drive away from me for the purposes of satisfying my craving for this veggie dish.

UPDATE as of 10-07-09:
This dish is well-loved now by at least two readers, and one of them, Sharon, even blogged about it (and about me -- thanks for the heaps of praises, Sharon!). Sharon's blog also has some very interesting baking recipes, although she says she is a newbie (I'd say she does great in baking, even better than I do, but she does not seem to believe that she is that good already). She has another blog which focuses on French to English translation (and actually works as F-->E translator). Her posts are very informative, and it is very apparent how erudite she is!

Ingredients: (all approximations)
1 bunch asparagus(sorry I forgot to take the weight, about the diameter of the circle you form when joining your two thumbs and middle fingers)
2 tbsp oil
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup vinegar
freshly milled pepper to taste
pinch of salt

Heat wok at medium setting for about 5 minutes while you prepare garlic and asparagus. Cut off the tips of asparagus about 3 inches, then chop the rest at 2-3 cm intervals down to the tough parts. Discard the tough parts of stems. Rinse well under cold water and let drain.
Heat oil for about 30 seconds and sautee garlic until light brown. Add asparagus and stir-fry about 3 minutes. Transfer veggies in a bowl/platter and keep warm. Pour soy sauce and vinegar to the wok and let simmer on low heat for about 5 minutes untouched. Place back the veggies into the pan carefully on top of the soy sauce-vingear without stirring. Sprinkle the freshly milled black pepper on top and add a pinch of salt. Let simmer uncovered without stirring for 3 minutes. Finally stir some more and turn off heat.

Serve with plain rice. Enjoy as is if you are trying to lose weight, or enjoy with a good protein source.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Almond Sans Rival Part III - Assembly

Here is the final post in my almond sans rival series (I might have, in the future, chocolate, mocha, pistachio, cashew, or even pandan, who knows?). Thank you for your patience.

Please take note in Part II of what I WOULD HAVE CHANGED in making these sans rival. I would not really change the recipes, but I believe at least getting the proportions right will give very good results. Photo above shows the chilled (hence flattened frosting and sprinkles -- not too appealing to the eyes, but tastes actually better than when freshly made) sans rival with thinner frosting than that shown in my first post. It was good, but I still wish I had thicker meringue layers. My husband found the buttercream too buttery in that first one I assembled (what else can you expect of buttercream anyway?) but he loved the meringue cookies alone! (However, I knew when I was making whoopie pies when I asked him about using butter in the frosting instead of shortening, he said it just does not taste quite the same. So maybe he really is not a fan of buttercream). My kids love both assembled and meringue cookies (dacquoise) alone; in fact, they are requesting I make some more dacquoise, but at present, I have no egg whites available. I do have some egg yolks (4 of them) from when my stepdaughter made chocolate molten lava cakes. Now I am thinking of finally making purely egg yolk-y leche flan...but I find that too rich, I can't eat more than two tbsp.

Anyway, I digress...

UPDATE: I made a second batch and brought/shared with co-workers (in two hospitals) and they raved about this, even asked for the recipe. Then I made a third batch, this time making it into a rectangular cake to bring to my mother-in-law on Mother's Day. Both she and her husband loved it as well!

Prepared meringue cookies (dacquoise)
Prepared buttercream
Toasted almonds (about 200 grams sliced)


Toast the almonds at 350 deg F for 8-10 minutes (I followed the instruction at the packaging for toasting the sliced almonds. I used two types of pan: 1 thin dark cookie sheet and another thick jelly roll pan, which gave me almost burnt almonds on the first, and perfectly toasted on the second. So, I suggest you watch after 5 minutes whether they are toasted good already). Cool then crumble using your hands.

Use a ziploc bag with a cut at the corner for the buttercream. Keep the rest cooled with bags of ice around (or in the fridge). Use gloves to insulate the buttercream from your warm hands. I would suggest putting a very thin layer of buttercream in between the dacquoise/meringue layers. Press together some more so the excess buttercream will be squeezed out. Use this to frost the sides.

[Note: In the slideshow you will see some sprinkled sugar+ground almonds which i sandwiched between two layers of meringue already frosted, so in effect I had very thick frosting of buttercream sandwiching the sugar+ground almonds. Since this resulted to overwhelming buttercream-y taste, I omitted the double frosting and sugar+ground almonds. Instead, I just applied one layer of frosting. It was much better, but I wish I had thicker dacquoise, or thinner buttercream.]

Prepare cling wrap for individual serving to hold the initial assembly, frost one broad side (e.g., bottom) and sprinkle with crumbled toasted almonds. Now you can touch this side with plastic so you can work on frosting the other broad side (e.g., top), then sprinkle some more with almonds.

There! I hope I have effectively taught those who needed teaching. Some of my readers might actually know about this; please do not hesitate to offer corrections, suggestions, etc. Even recipes are welcome! (That is, if you are willing to share.)

Gosh, I think I gained 5 pounds in the last three days because of this...I need to use the DDR!!! Arrrrgh!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Almond Sans Rival Part II - Buttercream

Here is now the second part of my sans rival series. I posted part I earlier, featuring how I made my meringue layers. This time, I will feature how I made the buttercream.

I used the recipe from foodnetwork, which was forwarded to me by retired pastry chef EQ (he commented in my supersoft ensaymada, and helped me look for sans rival recipes to follow, plus a secret pandesal recipe in exchange for the satisfaction he got from my ensaymada recipe).

I also used a candy thermometer and a bowl of cold water to test the softball stage. This is the first time I attempted making buttercream. I do remember that my sister Cris in Canada used to love this frosting. She would often ask my ex-MIL for a cake with that kind of frosting for her birthdays (kapal! Ako dapat nagre-request eh!)

In retrospect, after eating several of these deliciously rich dessert, I would have changed some things:
(1) make the wafers/meringue layers thicker
(2) use less butter (the recipe source says you may not have to use the whole pound of butter; depends on how much water you cook out when making the syrup)
(3) wait longer for the syrup+egg whites to cool down some more before starting to add the cut up butter (so that the frosting would have achieved the look that I was waiting for before I have added the whole pound of butter). Oh well, I was too impatient. I will try next time.
(4) apply thinner buttercream in between meringue layers (although maybe this would not be necessary if my meringue were thicker). The buttercream I had in the first few ones I made were too overwhelming, they were all I could taste, with barely a hint of the almond dacquoise/meringue taste.

Well, without further ado, here's the buttercream recipe. One thing for sure, it did taste so much like what my ex-MIL made.

UPDATE as of 5/5/09: I made this for the second time and used restraint with adding the butter. Patience is the key. I used less butter this time (3 sticks and 1/4) and I am more satisfied (hubby as well).

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
4 egg whites
3 sticks to 1 lb butter (1 box), cut up (when I made this the second time, I used 3-1/4 sticks and my husband liked it better)
1 to 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


In a small clean dry saucepan, place 2 cups sugar and then pour 1/2 cup water down the sides of the pan. Make an X in the sugar with 1 finger to encourage the water to seep into the middle of the pan of sugar. Bring to a boil on high heat and cook until softball stage (you can test with the bowl of cold water or 235 degrees F on a candy thermometer). This takes more than 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, while waiting for the syrup to boil, in a mixer with a whip attachment, whip the whites on moderate until they form soft peaks. When the syrup is up to temperature (235-240), drizzle it down the wall of the mixing bowl with the mixer running. Continue whipping (this time I used the fastest setting) until light, fluffy and almost cooled down (probably took me 5-7 minutes to wait).

Prepare the cut up butter by the mixer, placed atop bags of ice to keep them from melting. I also put another bag of ice on top of them. Later on, you will use these bags to cool down the mixing bowl.

Start adding the butter a few cubes at a time to cool the frosting and thicken it. The mixture will become RUNNY/SOUPY initially, the fluffiness gone for a while. Don't stop beating. Just place the bags of ice around the mixing bowl and continue beating, adding the butter gradually until you used up 3 sticks (took me about 5 minutes to do this). Soon it will look like runny cream that's smooth (almost like sundae). Taste it. If you already like the taste, stop adding butter. If you still think it is too sugary and want some more butter, then go ahead and add some more. Continue beating on high until it looks curdled (took me about 10 minutes to get to this stage after adding all butter) and add vanilla extract. Beat some more until it gets thick and of spreading consistency.

Keep the buttercream cold.

DISCLAIMER: Like I have said in the past, and I will say it again, I am not a culinary expert, and I am not an officially trained baker. All my tips above were based on my own experiences as I attempted to make this, also using several comments and tips from sites I have visited who had tried making this rich dessert. If you have tips to add, or if you see something wrong with what I did, feel free to comment on how I could have improved my recipe or method. Thanks.

UPDATE as of 3/29/09: Today I made the egg yolk version of buttercream (basically the same technique), and I can say it is not as creamy-tasting as the one made with egg whites. So I placed just a thin layer (1 tbsp) of this in between my meringue layers that I made last night (thicker this time). Later tonight I will make the egg white version of buttercream again (possibly half the recipe that I posted above) to coat the outside. My husband still prefers the plain (no frosting) meringue cookies.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sweet Potato Cream Cheese Wheat Bread

This is another entry for the NC Sweet Potato contest that I referred to earlier when I made the sweet potato pandesal and pandelimon. I would like to thank sweetbytes for this contest and giving us a boost to explore the possibilities of sweet potatoes.

This bread is inspired by the common Filipino bakery item "pan de pula" with the bread enveloping a red filling. Although the original recipe for pan de pula makes use of stale bread for the filling that is made like a pudding, to which a few drops of red coloring is added for interesting contrast against the bread that wraps around it, I used cream cheese for this recipe to make it special. I also made use of some whole wheat flour for the bread. The sweet potatoes help create a very tender wheat bread. Upon baking, this bread is then sliced into individual servings. The leftover is kept in the fridge. Reheating takes about 15 seconds for each slice. I love it as snack or to accompany my evening/morning coffee. My husband said it was quite good. My sons liked it as well, especially upon coming home from school.

I experimented with two types of "presentation" of the bread, one with slashes and one with fork tine piercings for vent. I like the slashed one better as far as appearance goes.

8-oz cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter, softened
1-2 cups confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup sweet potato
1 egg

Beat together all ingredients until well-blended. Refrigerate until ready to use.


Makes 2 loaves

3 to 3-1 / 2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 / 4 cup sugar
2 envelopes FLEISCHMANN’S RapidRise Yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1-1 / 2 cups water
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
3 / 4 cup mashed boiled sweet potato

egg wash made of 1 egg and 1 tbsp milk


In a large bowl, combine 1 cup all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, sugar, undissolved yeast, and salt. Heat water, butter and mashed potato until very warm (120o to 130oF). Gradually add to flour mixture. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed of electric mixer, scraping bowl occasionally. Stir in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough. Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes. Cover; let rest 10 minutes.

Divide dough in half. Roll each half to 8 x 12-inch oval. Divide filling into two and spread on the dough, either in the form of a log or spread flat, sparing the edges for the dough to seal (filling is quite runny, so do not put too much and allow about 3-4 inches for dough edge sealing. Turn seam side down onto greased baking sheet and let rise for about 40 minutes to an hour in a warm, draft-free place. Using a sharp blade, make slashes (or use fork tines) to create vents. Let rise for another 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat up the oven to 400 deg F. Brush dough with eggwash. Bake 15-20 minutes or until done. Remove from sheet. Cool on wire rack.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Almond Sans Rival Part I - Meringue layers

I got into this obsessive desire to try making sans rival after my correspondence with retired pastry chef, EQ, who loved my supersoft ensaymada. I asked for his recipe for sans rival, but he could not find it, so he pointed me instead to two sites that will help me create them.

Sans rival ("no rival") is a very sinfully delicious dessert that I encountered first, I believe, in a bakeshop within UP campus during my college days. I cannot remember the name of the building (not an academic building but one of the administrative type of buildings, I think). In any case, since introduction to it, I had been enjoying it whenever and wherever I saw it (together with another favorite dessert, Sambo). I can't buy them where I am now.

The most common flavor then was cashew. Nowadays, browsing through the net, there are also other flavors such as pistachio and other nuts, and pandan. I made almond, based on the recipe pointed out to me. I am not too keen anymore on the pandan...somehow, the essence/extract/flavoring tastes too artificial to me. Nothing like the real leaves boiled in water.

As I said in the previous post, I will post this in a series (like my hopia series). If you have plenty of egg whites (maybe you make your leche flan only with yolks, or you are making runny ensaymada dough using 20 egg yolks), you might want to make sans rival. Both meringue and buttercream recipes I used as reference make use of egg whites.

Now, I don't know what the origin of the term is, but this particular wafer has its own name (which it deserves to have, in my opinion): Dacquoise. I don't have the least idea how to pronounce that. This is what makes the meringue layers of sans rival. Plain or used in sans rival, these have become a big hit in my family, including my hubby.

The way I prepared the meringue layer was as individual servings of round flat "cookies" or wafers which everyone in my family also loves plain. I have experimented in the past by baking one whole flat sheet then using a biscuit cutter, but I ended up with crumbs and broken pieces. The site I referred to here gave me the idea about using patterns, although it did not elaborate much on how to easily peel off the meringue from the parchment paper. Some sites say to use greased and floured baking pans. I remember when I made the frozen brazo de mercedes, I greased the wax paper. At the edges where I missed some spots, the meringue stuck. So I experimented doing these two things: greased only, and greased and floured.

2/3 cup egg white, in room temp for 30 minutes
2/3 cup almond meal (I had sliced almonds chopped finely in food processor)
1/4 cup sugar, mixed with almond meal
2 tbsp sugar, mixed with egg whites during foaming
2/3 cup sugar, mixed with egg whites during soft peaks


EDITED 3/19/09: Take out your eggs from the fridge and separate the whites if you don't have them ready yet (easier to separate them while cold). Use a small bowl/cup to catch the egg white. Once you are sure you are not gonna break the yolk, transfer the white to the mixing bowl, preferably glass or metal, not plastic. If you break the yolk, reserve that whole egg for another recipe and use another egg to avoid contamination of the whites). Let the egg whites sit out at room temp (better for whipping) while you prepare the pans.

A. Prepare the pan . Follow these steps carefully or you will end up breaking all your dacquoise trying to remove from the pan, then you will end up with crumbs.

1. Make patterns of circles on one side (the side that will touch the pan later) of wax or parchment paper. (I used sharpie and a plastic cup.)

2. Apply a thin layer of shortening onto baking sheet. (I dip paper towel into a bucket of Crisco to get about a tbsp of shortening. I then wipe this onto the baking sheet.)

3. Place the patterned wax/parchment paper onto the greased sheet.

4. Grease the paper also (like in step 2).

Note: I attempted to try sprinkling with flour one of them greased paper. I compared the two after baking. The floured ones stuck more. So just be satisfied with greasing the paper. I don't think that greasing the pan under the paper will also help, but I do it anyway so my paper sticks to the pan and not slide.)

B. Prepare the batter and bake. Pre-heat the oven to 225 deg F. (Recipe courtesy of Zoe).

1. Mix the almond meal with 1/4 cup sugar.
2. Start whipping the egg white under medium speed.
3. When whites start to foam, add the 2 tbsp sugar. Continue whipping.
4. When soft peaks form, gradually add 2/3 cup sugar while continuing to whip the whites. Stop when stiff peaks form. [Note that in the slideshow I changed from glass bowl to the metal bowl. I did this because my hand mixer did not seem to have enough power to beat once the sugar made the mixture sticky. The motor was running but the beaters were not. So I immediately transferred to my clean metal bowl and continued whipping there. It is important that there is no trace of water, oil or even egg yolks when whipping egg whites.]
5. Add half of the sugar+almond mixture by folding* this into whipped egg whites. Repeat with the remaining half.
6. Place in ziploc bag. Cut a corner and pipe out thin layers onto prepared pan, following the patterns.
7. Bake for 1 hr. Peel off paper and let dry out some more on cooling racks while making the buttercream. [Note: Maybe a shorter time will do, since this is very thin, maybe 20 minutes? maybe increasing the temp will help also? Then just let dry out some more on wire racks, if your air is as dry as mine here. If not (like in the Philippines, where it is always humid), maybe stick to the temp as above, bake for 20 mins, turn off heat and let residual heat dry out the cookies/wafers some more.)

*If any of my readers would be interested to make this (and other recipes with "folding" step) but do not really know exactly what folding is (if you are a newbie in baking), I will try my best to upload a video as an example, if requested. I may not be an officially trained baker, but I do know what "folding" means in baking terms. It was demonstrated to me by my ex-MIL, who is a home economics graduate. One thing to remember: YOU DO NOT USE A WIRE WHISK TO GENTLY FOLD something into the batter; rather, you use a spatula or spoon. The folding is a means to incorporate ingredients into an airy/bubbly batter without breaking up all the air bubbles, because you want to maintain the airy-ness and fluffiness of the batter for "volume" and sponginess upon baking.

UPDATE as of 3-27-09:
I made this again today, but basing on other recipes, i tried to do short cut by baking at 350 deg F for 20 minutes. Well guess what...after about 10 minutes, I sniffed the burnt smell! It was too late! I already ruined this batch...I will have to wait again for egg whites...

Friday, March 13, 2009

Camote (Sweet Potato) Pandesal and Pandelimon

Several days ago, I got an email from sassysweets inviting me to join a contest to come up with recipes using sweet potatoes, for anything easy and quick enough to be a part of everyday family meal. The contest is hosted by NC Sweet Potatoes and there is unlimited number of entries. I don't know exactly how I got invited, but I welcome the opportunity to explore cooking and baking with potatoes. You can read more about the contest in the sweetbytes blog. This post will be the first in my camote series. You will see more in the following days on camote, but I will also post about other things in between.

Because of this contest, I thought I would experiment more on the use of sweet potatoes. While we Filipinos are used to incorporating sweet potatoes (camote) in our dishes, we never really explored its potential in baking until recently, in an attempt to lessen the use of wheat in flour and beat the high price of yeast breads/rolls.

I first made pandesal and pandelimon, two of the mostly consumed yeast rolls in the Philippines. Although I have posted in the past about pandesal using just regular flour, I will feature it here with the use of sweet potato. Pandesal is a Filipino breakfast staple, eaten plain or with fillings such as jams, cheese, butter/margarine, peanut butter, or even meats (corned beef and liver spread being the most popular), along with a cup of coffee or a mug of milk. I already have a post here on my favorite pandesal recipes using the bread machine. Now I have made the dough using sweet camote, still with the use of the bread machine, to come up with super soft pandesal and pandelimon. Bread machine has been a friend of mine as it helps making yeast rolls a breeze even for a working mother like me. Pandelimon, when made larger, is excellent for burger buns, but I love eating the small one plainly served during dinner. It can rival, if it's not better than, the rolls served in one of the major family restaurants here in our town. The only difference in the two is the bread crumbs used to coat pandesal, and their shape. I love the pleasant yellowish color the sweet potato imparts, as this creates the impression that extra egg yolks were added.

Even if I end up not winning the first prize for the said contest, I will be just as happy to be able to come up with recipes here using camote/sweet potatoes that Philippine-based readers of my blog could make use of as a resource for a potential business in that country. Camote is very cheap in the Philippines compared to flour, and the soft yellowish rolls they create will probably boost up sales and profit.


1 / 2 cup milk
1 / 4 cup water
1 / 2 cup boiled and mashed sweet potato
1 / 4 cup butter or margarine
1 large egg
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
3 cups bread flour + 2-3 tbsp while kneading
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp Fleischmann's bread machine yeast


Mix the milk, water and mashed sweet potatoes and heat in the microwave for around 1-1/2 minutes. Add the butter and egg, beat to mix then check temperature. It should be between 70-80 deg F (room temp). Pour into the bread machine pan. Add the dry ingredients. Set at dough cycle. after about 10 minutes, start adding flour gradually so that the dough is not too sticky (try to poke from time to time with fingers). It should appear relatively smooth and moist, not wet or flaky. The kneading ends on the 30th minute, then it rises for 1 hr.

Transfer the dough on a lightly floured surface (it will shrink). Make a log out of the dough, cut some to form into smooth balls (sprinkle with some flour again as you get a new ball. Shaping this takes practice. The surface should not be too floury or you won't shape effectively, but must not have too little flour so that it becomes sticky and the surface of ball appears very rough). Arrange balls on greased baking sheet as shown in the slide. Cover with damp flour sack in a draft-free place until doubled in size, about 45 minutes. For the remaining log of dough, cut at intervals of 1 to 1-1/2 inch for pandesal. Roll in bread crumbs and arrange on greased baking pan. Let rise for 30 minutes. I like placing them inside the oven, then turn on the oven for a minute and turned off to create that warm draft-free environment.

The video below is one I made for the whole wheat pandesal post and basically has the same procedure. I placed the video here for you to better visualize how I make pandesal.

Bake at 375oF for 12-15 minutes or until done, first the pandesal followed by the pandelimon. Remove from pan and serve hot; cool on wire rack completely then place in ziploc after about 30 minutes those you will not consume right away. To enjoy hot the next days, use oven toaster and bake at 350 deg F for 3 minutes.

My next post will be on the sinfully delicious almond sans rival, which I will also post as a series, interspersed with camote series.

Easy Beef Stroganoff


This easy beef stroganoff is one taught by my MIL and that is loved by my whole family. I almost always have all ingredients in my pantry/freezer. Whenever I run out of ideas and want something quick, this is one of those that come to my mind. An all-time favorite in my family no matter what season, I can't imagine why it took me this long to figure out I don't have it yet in my blog!

1 lb (wide) egg noodles
1 lb ground beef, sprinkled with some flour
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
(optional: some drops of worcestershire sauce and 1/4 cup of sherry)
1 small can sliced mushrooms
1 can (10-3/4 oz) condensed cream of mushroom
some water (about 1/4-1/2 cup of water)
1 (8-oz) sour cream

Prepare noodles as directed in the package. While boiling water for this, start preparing the beef.

Brown ground beef. When it starts rendering oil, add the garlic, followed by the onions then mushrooms. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add worcestershire sauce and sherry if desired.

Add the cream of mushroom. Put some water into the can to rinse out remaining cream and add to the pan. Stir well. Add some more water as needed to make a thick sauce. DO NOT be tempted to add too much because that sauce will get thinner once you add the sour cream. Simmer for about 10 minutes for flavors to blend well, stirring occasionally.

Turn off heat (for conduction cooktop) and add sour cream. Stir to blend. (For flame stovetop, turn the heat off after stirring to blend; sour cream should be just heated through).
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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

New England Clam Chowder

New England Clam Chowder
One item we usually order during the cold winter months in a family-friendly restaurant is clam chowder. New England style clam chowder uses salt pork for the fat source traditionally (or so I have read), and is rich with the use of heavy cream. Hubby loves his with lots of saltine crackers. With the exception of my stepdaughter, who is bent to believe she is allergic to all seafood, our family l loves clam chowder.

I tried to recreate it at home as this is one of the comfort foods in this area. I based this recipe on Cooking For Engineer's site, and gained approval from my picky husband.


3 tbsp oil (rendered fat from salt pork)
3 cans (6.5 oz minced clams in clam juice)
1 (8-oz) clam juice
1 big (1-lb or so) russet potato, diced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tbsp flour
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste
dash of ground basil (optional)


Drain clam juice off from cans. Set aside the juice.

Render oil from salt pork.

Saute onion. Follow with diced potatoes and stir until potatoes are well coated with oil (this coating will help potatoes retain their shape and not easily crumble).

Sprinkle the flour and stir. Add the clam juice from draining, and the bottled one. Let boil. Season with salt and pepper (be careful as salt pork and saltine crackers are salty already).

Lower heat and simmer covered for about 20 minutes or until done, stirring occasionally to make sure potatoes don't stick to pan.

Add milk, heavy cream and clams, and heat without boiling (which will cause milk to coagulate and form clumps).

Enjoy with crumbled saltine crackers on top (or crumbled chicharon, like what my sons do).

(I served this tonight with potato peasant bread and fruit salad = combination of canned cocktail fruit, peaches, mandarin oranges, lychees, and palm seeds, topped with whipped cream.)

Honey Whole Wheat Loaf

My husband loves wheat loaves. He loves the texture and the chewiness. It also happens that my BIL/SIL have honeybees, so every year we get a good supply of homemade honey. One of the few loaves that hubby loves so much is honey whole wheawt loaf, which I found in breadworld.com in my search for loaves with honey and wheat. Everyone in the family loves this. If I can't get my stepdaughter to eat supper, she will gobble up any rolls or loaves I put on the table that are tender and warm.

Recipe courtesy of breadworld.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Black-Eyed Peas and Zucchini Sautee

From black eyed peas

One of my favorite veggie-based dishes that is similar to the way I prepare guisadong munggo, I just interchange the black-eyed peas with green mung beans. Although distinctly different in taste, they both taste awesome to me, and my kids love it.

1/2 cup black-eyed peas, cooked
1 tbsp oil
1/4 lb pork, sliced thinly (or use ground)
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
3 medium tomatoes (or 1-2 big), sliced
1 cup chicken broth (or water), or as you deem necessary
1/4 lb shrimps, shelled
salt and pepper to taste
dash of ground basil
1 zucchini, sliced thinly

Soak black-eyed peas for 30 minutes. Drain and rinse well. Add water enough to cover up to about 1 inch above the BEP and boil, then lower heat to simmer 30-45 minutes or until done, stirring occasionally, making sure you don't run out of water.

When BEP are done, heat oil and sautee pork for about 5 minutes or until brown and tender, followed by garlic then onions until translucent. Add tomatoes and keep stirring. When tomatoes turn saucy, add the BEP, broth/water, salt and pepper, and ground basil. When boiling, add zucchini slices and shrimps and cook uncovered, stirring frequently until zucchini is tender and shrimps turn pink.

Eat alone or with plain rice.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Hard Boiled Egg in 4 Minutes Using Microwave

This method of cooking egg using microwave is useful if you want to "boil" ONLY ONE egg because you are preparing it only for yourself. Photo above does not depict egg yolk as good as it was, because I used the blunt spoon to cut the egg in half, instead of using a knife. But seeing the color, you will know that it was "hard boiled" to perfection.

I have been boiling eggs by batches of 6-10 in the past, for using in ramen/noodle soup or arroz caldo, but oftentimes, my kids would forget about them. So there will be several of them eggs in the fridge, even after a week. I am not comfortable with that, especially if the egg has cracked during boiling. After a while I just toss them away; what a waste! Though I have seen and eaten hard boiled eggs sitting on the counter of some carinderia in the Philippines and I had no idea how long they had been sitting there from the time they were cooked, I am not comfortable having any cooked foods sitting on the countertop at room temp for more than 4 hours, or in the fridge for more than two weeks. That's why, boiling several eggs (to maximize use of water, time, and electricity) does not really appeal to me.

So I experimented again with the microwave. When I was a kid, I always had some protein in my ramen (mami) noodles, and some veggies when we had them in the fridge. I used to boil the egg in the water as I cooked the noodles. My kids are too lazy to do the same, so they cook their noodles in the microwave. But in an attempt to influence them to add at least a hard boiled egg in their noodle soup, I had to improvise to make hard boiled eggs without deviating from their method of cooking noodles. And I found that method...saves me time and electricity, and avoids tossing away leftovers.

1 egg
HOT water/soup/arroz caldo to cover at least 3/4 of the egg upright (maybe a cup of hot water will do)


If using water, turn your faucet to HOT until you get it really hot. I was using hot homemade chicken stock at the time, to turn into chicken mami, so the other ingredients here supported the egg upright. Having the egg upright while uncooked helps it from leaking out the white into the water/soup. If using cold water, you might have to prolong the microwave time. Feel free to experiment and get to know your microwave better.

Tap gently the wider end of the egg and peel off some shell to create a small hole. This hole will allow for some expansion of air or eggwhite while the egg gets hot during microwaving (as you can see by the knob that formed in the photo). If you do not create a hole, there will be no outlet for expansion and the egg will EXPLODE inside the microwave (I know...I have done that!). Place this egg upright in the bowl or cup, with soup/water reaching up to 3/4 of the egg.

Cover and microwave for 4 minutes (this is for a 1.6 kW microwave). You might want to adjust accordingly depending on your microwave. I also had tried doing this with cool soup and it gave me malasadong itlog, which I also like.

I demonstrated this to my kids...they thought it was cool!

Are you ready to try it?

UPDATE: I tried doing this with only some water and using a cup to hold the egg upright. It exploded. I did it twice. Both exploded. So I think, to achieve a really hard-boiled egg consistency, you must include other foods so the microwave does not concentrate the energy only on the egg. Maybe a lower power will also work (which I have tried at 30% and it still exploded. I dared not experiment again after that).

Chicken Sopas


Every Filipino child most likely has been exposed to chicken sopas. It is one of our favorite breakfast or merienda. I loved the way my Nanay made sopas. When I was an adult already, I would buy chicken sopas from carinderia and it would have mostly the pasta, very little of meat, veggies, and usually no milk.

Well, in an attempt to recreate my Nanay's sopas, here is my method:

8 cups (or 2 quarts) chicken stock
1 lb pasta (either shell or elbow, medium size)
1-2 cups pre-cooked strips/cubes of chicken(leftover roast chicken, for example)
1/4 cabbage, cut into strips
1 medium carrot, peeled, then prepare "thin slices" using peeler
1/4 to 1/2 cup heavy cream or milk (depends on how creamy you want it)
salt and pepper to taste
Boil chicken stock. Maintain on high heat.
Add pasta, stir frequently during first few minutes and let cook for about 8 minutes with occasional stirring.
Add pre-cooked meat and veggies. Adjust taste with salt and pepper.
Turn off heat (for conduction cooktop) or turn heat to lowest (for flame stovetop) and add the heavy cream or milk while still hot, continuously stirring. DO NOT ALLOW TO BOIL. It should only be steamy but not boiling, or else milk will coagulate and soup won't be creamy. Stop when you have achieved your desired consistency, and completely removed from heat source.
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Thursday, March 05, 2009

Thanks to Mely for these Puto Molds!

I came home very tired from work today, and I still have to go to work early tomorrow morning, then I have the weekend off, and I will be able to update my blog and do some bloghopping.
Mely had told me about her sending these puto molds to me and I have been waiting excitingly for them.
I finally got them today! They were like mini muffin cups! But the good thing about these (in contrast to muffin cups) is that they do not have ridges, so clean up (and brushing with butter) will be much easier!

Thanks, Mely!!! Like you said, I will put these puto molds to good use...you can count on me for that!

Mely is a very good cook and has got lots of excellent recipes in her food blog.

For those who might be interested to purchase puto molds, the tartlet pans on the right will probably do (they are like shorter versions of muffin cups without the ridges).

Sunday, March 01, 2009


Manang Kusinera's Sapin-Sapin
Ube, Langka and Coconut layers of Sapin-Sapin
This is my entry for this week's LaPiS theme: Tricolore. Not counting the latik topping, sapin-sapin itself is an interesting layer upon layer of 3 colors and flavors.

I have long been wanting to try making sapin-sapin. With the many recipes calling for rice flour or galapong or coconut milk extract (gata from kinudkod na nyog), it was not clear to me what the proportions were, what exact rice flour to use, etc. So, I chose one recipe to use as a guide, and although it listed rice flour, I used glutinous rice flour instead (hoping my common sense would lead me right). I mixed the base using hand mixer and tasted it first to decide whether I liked the sweetness, which was a bit bland for me, and the batter was quite too dry for me, so I added condensed milk (basing on another recipe which apparently comes up with very runny sapin-sapin). I had canned langka (jackfruit), leftover ube halaya and ube cream cheese filling, and half a pack of frozen shredded young coconut. I shortened the steaming time in between layers to 10 minutes instead of 15, and the final layer I kept at 15 minutes. I brushed the final outcome with coconut oil on top. I loved the taste (although the jackfruit was quite predominant if you taste all layers at once), and the consistency was perfect! Not runny nor too hard. I loved it! My younger son liked it as well (my older son has not tasted it yet to this time, and hubby is not interested (he did not like the texture).

Of course, before I made this, I prepared the latik first.



The batter base:
3-1/2 cups glutinous (sticky) rice flour
1 cup white sugar (or more according to your taste)
1 can 14-oz coconut milk (Premium, Thai)
1/4 cup milk (I just added to coco milk to total 16 oz)
1/2 can 14-oz sweetened condensed milk

Flavors and colors:
food colorings (yellow and purple, or if you have McCormick extracts with the corrresponding colors, that will be even better - ube, buco pandan, and langka)
1/2 cup langka, chopped
1/2 cup shredded young coconut, chopped well
1 cup ube halaya


Prepare latik as previously posted.

Prepare steamer with enough water to not run out by the end of 35 minutes of steaming. Prepare bamboo steamer also by lining with banana leaves, wiped dry and brushed with coconut oil.

In a bowl, beat well the rice flour, coconut milk, sugar and condensed milk until well blended. [Taste with your finger at this point to adjust.] Divide into three and place in separate bowls.

Chop the coconut (I used the chopper). Mix with 1/3 of the batter with a spatula. Place in prepared bamboo steamer, cover (with bamboo steamer cover) and steam (with pot covered) for 10 minutes. If you want pandan flavor added, use buco pandan extract, which will color it green.

Chop langka. Mix with 1/3 of the batter, add 20 drops of yellow food coloring (or McCormick langka extract). Mix well with spatula. Place on top of first layer. Steam for 10 minutes.

Using blender, mix the ube well with the third bowl of rice flour mixture. Add purple food coloring (I used concentrated purple coloring for cake icing, Wellington brand, by using toothpick dipped into the food coloring then swirled in the batter. I repeated doing this with fresh toothpick until I achieved the desired color. However, when cooked, I realized I added too much, since the whiteness of uncooked rice flour was gone when it was cooked, so the purple color was too pronounced at the end of cooking! Later when a friend sent me some extracts, I used the ube extract). Add on the second layer and steam for 15 minutes.

Let cool. Brush top with coconut oil. Top with latik and enjoy warm or chilled!

To store: Wrap individual servings tightly with cling wrap. You may opt to chill for consumption within the next few days, or freeze by placing in freezer bag each serving wrapped in cling wrap. Reheat in microwave for 20-30 seconds (timing may vary depending on the size and wattage). Depending on your cling wrap, you may leave it on while you microwave if it is microwaveable. If not, it might melt so remove it prior to reheating, place the piece on a small plate and cover with another plate.


Making Latik

Not the best photo....sowee...

Do you have kids? I feel thankful that I have son power when I need them, but sometimes, they are not the best human resources one could hope for...

One time I asked my boys to take turn grating coconut (nyog) for use in pichi-pichi. I was very dismayed when I saw the end result: full of fibers that it looked dirty instead of cottony white appearance. I froze it at the time, keeping in mind that I have to use it for something else that it would not have to appear in the final presentation.

Good thing I had spare coconuts at the time so I was still able to serve pichi-pichi the traditional way.

The other night, I recalled that coconut. I debated whether to use it for pan de coco or something else. The I thought of extracting gata...then while extracting, light bulb turned on inside my head and I thought I'd make latik (I had been considering using canned coconut milk for that purpose, but I was hesitant because what if canned coco milk does not produce latik at all???

Ingredients and How-To:

1 mature coconut, grated

Proceed as depicted in the slide show. I like placing the nyog on cheesecloth. Add about 1/4 to 1/2 cup hot water first. Squeeze repeatedly with your hands and fingers. Gather the edges of cheesecloth and wring out the juice. This is the first press (kakang-gata). Do this twice (the resulting juice is the second press; I mix them together for purposes of making latik), then start boiling. (Note: You can probably use the pressed coconut meat to mix with breadcrumbs or flour with curry powder to coat deep fried shrimps...just an idea...)

Use medium low heat to cook, uncovered. Do some chores. Once it starts to thicken, watch closely so as not to burn the resulting latik (you might have to lower the heat further). Once it starts to brown, scrape the bottom of pan frequently. When brown already, drain off the coconut oil. You can use this coconut oil to brush pans for bibingka and other kakanin. Or just pamper yourself with oil massage of the scalp or skin. Store latik in airtight container and keep in the fridge until use.

Can you guess what I will prepare next to use this latik for?

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