"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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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Cocoa Crinkle Cookies


I did not make this. My MIL did. She makes this about once a year and gives us a big bag of them freshly made. So, even though I have the recipe, I thought I'd let myself look forward to having this at least once a year from her, just as I like looking forward to having paris brest made by my SIL every Christmas or Thanksgiving, whenever it was her turn to host a major holiday. Moreover, I am still trying to learn how to bake full-bodied cookies (instead of flat ones) using the Tollhouse recipe.

Everyone in our family loves them, including my husband who always look forward to getting treats from his mom (and he loves traditions, so this is one traditional food for him).

Recipe is from Hershey's Classic Recipes book; also in their website.

For more photos of actual making of these delights, please refer to the chef's wife's post here.

Cocoa Crinkle Cookies

2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Powdered sugar

1. Combine granulated sugar and oil in large bowl; add cocoa, beating until well blended. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir together flour, baking powder and salt; gradually add to cocoa mixture, beating well.

2. Cover; refrigerate until dough is firm enough to handle, at least 6 hours.

3. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease cookie sheet. Shape dough into 1-inch balls; roll in powdered sugar to coat. Place about 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheet.

4. Bake 11 to 13 minutes or until almost no indentation remains when touched lightly and tops are crackled. Cool slightly. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. About 4 dozen cookies.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sisig (using Pork Face, of course!)

Sisig is hard to come by nowadays for the likes of me, transplanted from my beloved Philippines to this rural country.

Good thing, being a rural place that this states is, one time I had a pig's head which my in-laws did not like (they had their pig slaughtered and knew I wanted what they did not, so I got some pork goodies).

What else is there to do with a pig's head than to turn it to a Filipino classic ppulutan dish called sisig?

Of course, I turned to the internet to look for recipes (those of Market Manila and burntlumpia, in particular), and tweaked the method to suit what I have at home -- boiling then oven-roasting instead of deep-frying, before chopping. This takes about 2 days for me at least (boiling and drying separately from roasting and cooking the sisig per se).

Too bad that recently, somehow it seems that there is now a law prohibiting the slaughterhouses to reserve the head and the innards to give to the owners per request. During my first year here I was able to get the pork and beef intestines, and the pork head, but now I can't. I don't know if I can request from a grocery store, but then I do not trust meat from unknown sources (and I mean meat from pork/beef/chicken that we did not raise ourselves. If you are aware of the practices in animal farming here in the US, you would understand why). So this is a fond memory for me, having cooked sisig at least once in my lifetime, served during a Christmas gathering with my Pinay friends. It was literally heart-wrenching (after eating just a bit, we knew we had loads of fat from this dish), but was transported back to the Philippines for a while.

pork head, boiled, deboned, chopped

water enough to cover
10 or so peppercorns
2 bay leaves
salt (approximate depending on amount of water)
1 head garlic

spray of olive oil
sprinkles of garlic salt

SISIG PROPER (for about 3 cups of chopped pork face/ears)
1 big onion, chopped
3 chopped green chilies (amount depends on how hot you want it)
freshly milled black pepper

crushed chicharon
sliced green chilies
lemon juice

Boil the head in a big pot for about 30 minutes. Let drain. Dry out further by placing in the fridge atop a wire rack on a baking pan uncovered at least overnight (but do not overdo by drying more than 1 day).

When ready to roast, heat up the oven with the rack placed at the very bottom. Set to 450 deg F.

Take out the pig's head. You are going to use the whole ensemble. Brush or spray the pig's head with olive oil. Sprinkle with garlic salt. Roast for 15 minutes then lower the heat to 350 deg F. Bake for 1 hour.

Separate meat/fat/skin from the bones. Chop, chop, chop.

At this point, you may want to freeze some for later use. You will not be able to consume the whole thing unless you have a whole barangay of Pinoys who would gladly have their share of this artery-constricting concoction.

Prepare the other ingredients. Heat up your cast-iron griddle (the wider the better) on high for about 5 minutes. Lower the heat to 6 or even 4 so as not to burn and place the chopped pork face. Stir, stir, stir until it renders it own fat. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Add black pepper and salt to taste. Stir some more until it becomes fried in its own fat so it get a little crispy.

Drain the excess fat. Drizzle with vinegar and lemon juice. Adjust taste accordingly by adding salt and pepper. Top with chicharon and some more sliced chilies.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Chicken Inasal

I recently tried the chicken inasal recipe from overseaspinoycooking.com. I never really knew how it tasted like. I know there was one Chicken Inasal outlet somewhere in Makati that I tried eating it, but was not too impressed (still preferred the lechon manok from Andok's or Baliwag, and one in Manila which seemed owned by a Japanese (superb herb and brine flavors! I would only get the chance to buy from them when I had to go home to Bulacan from a station near Jose Reyes hospital.)

But I remember one of my friends who is now located in this state and found me through this foodblog had chicken inasal and she recommended this recipe. I probably should have used more marinade, or marinated longer. I also goofed because when I had to boil the marinade before grilling, I mistakenly added soy sauce when there should not be (too much inclination for me to do things this way when making barbecue of anything). It was good, but only kinda skin-deep, so next time I am gonna make more marinade and will probably leave them in the fridge for more than overnight.

I did use annatto oil per MaMely's recipe. I had to try twice because I burnt the first. When she said simmer, she meant simmer! As in, start and keep the heat on low; not boil then lower to simmer. Haha! Now I got a whole cup of it in an 8-oz canning jar without seeds (take note, MaMely!)

Thanks to both foodbloggers!

Because I was not too satisfied with the outcome of the recipe I initially tried, I googled it again. Found one at Market Manila but no recipe; just ingredients. Well, I do not like guessing when it is my first time to cook something. For something I have cooked many times before, I can cook without measuring (the measurements here in my recipes are often approximate, and given here for the sake of the newbie cooks who might want to try my recipes).

Reading the comments under MM's post, I came across this one particular comment which got me intrigued, so next time I am gonna try it:

Here’s 1 foolproof delish inasal recipe I have been following eversince I got this from the free recipe booklet of Lea and Perrins worcestershire sauce:

1 whole chicken,(approx.1kg), quartered
6 stalks lemongrass, white part pounded
1/2 tsp chopped ginger
1/3 cup annatto oil
1 cup soda(sprite)
2 tbsps tamarind paste or juice
1/3 cup tamarind leaves, washed
3 tbsps chopped garlic
3 tbsps lea and perrins worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tbsps patis
1 tsp pepper
Place all ingredients in a bowl and marinate for at least 25 mins. Transfer in a pan and bring to a boil to cook chicken for about 15 mins.Remove chicken and simmer stock for another 15 mins.Strain and reserve stock for grilling.
Cook chicken over hot charcoal and brush frequently with the reserved stock.Cook just until chicken has burn marks.Serve with sinamak or spiced vinegar.
To make sinamak, put red chilies, garlic, peppercorns, ginger and onions in a bottle.Fill with vinegar and let the flavors infuse for at least 8 hours.Serve with grilled chicken.

I never go wrong with this recipe and am always ensured with a thoroughly cooked, moist and flavorful chicken!Sometimes I omit the tamarind leaves when not available and just increase a tbsp of the tamarind paste/juice or even use sinigang powder and it’s still the same flavor! Try it! Thanks to that free booklet of recipes!

Another recipe shared this time by Emeriza D.

Manang..heres my recipe of chicken inasal originally from my cousin sa bacolod.. hope you like it. I preffered po na grilled sya.. but okay din ang baked po.

*Whole chicken (cut into serving portions)
i rub nyo po ng salt..and leave it for 30-40 min.
then pour vinegar, lots of garlic (2 head) and lots of ginger..(pinoy suka po) enough to cover the chicken lng po (soak it for 1-2 hours lng po para di maluto sa suka)

Mag gisa po kayo ng luya and bawang at dinikdik na lemon grass po damihan ng mantika ( yun po yung i spread nyo sa chicken while cooking it) atsuete powder for coloring and salt to taste

pagtapos pong ibabad yung chicken, tusuktusukin para ma sure na papasok lasa ng ginisa mixture

ihaw lng po...

then sa sawsawan po... Kalamansi, toyo at suka, little amount of sugar to balance the taste.

yung pinaggisahan po ng pan... pwede pong dun mag gawa fried rice.

Menu for July 4th

Gotta prepare for July 4th...I am the IT for this year. Yikes! Menu in mind: pork and chicken barbecue, hotdogs and burgers (for the Americans), chips, veggies with dip, tossed salad, potato salad, deviled eggs, cut up fruits, orange salad (or ambrosia), fruit salad (pinoy style), homemade vanilla ice cream, wave-your-flag crema de fruta...

Oh wait...I don't have Pinoy visitors...the only Pinoys are myself and my boys. I might end up with lots of leftovers. Oh well, we'll see

What's in your menu?

Friday, June 26, 2009

Baked Bacon & Cheese Open Sandwich

Open-Faced Bacon  Cheese Sandwich
After 6 years of marriage, only now did I learn of hubby asking for this type of open sandwich that he used to make for himself when he was still living alone.
He said just set the oven on low broil (or high; just keep looking), lay the bread slices on the pan, place sliced cheeses then top with bacon. He said the cheese would be toasted or burnt and that was inevitable. (Actually I like toasted cheese on pan de sal reheated in oven toaster.) I experimented by adding egg on mine near the end of broiling the second batch (which was not too successful as it slid down right away; I had to scoop the cooked egg from the pan).

Truly a food trip for a hot summer day!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Strawberry Milk Shake

"I don't even like strawberry shake, but this is delicious!" -- Husband

My kids love it!

Probably the good store-bought strawberries made a lot of difference. Seldom are we able to get really good strawberries from the store. Usually they are puckery and hard, pinkish red instead of really red. This time I got a "Limited Edition" from a "William & Anderson" farm in California (not Mexico!). We liked them eaten as is, and we love the shake made with them.

16 oz strawberries
1 to 1-1/2 crushed ice
1/2 cup sugar
enough milk to reach 4 cups in the blender
4 scoops of vanilla ice cream


Place strawberries in the blender first, followed by sugar, then crushed ice. Pour milk to level of 4 cups, top with 4 scoops vanilla ice cream. Blend using liquefy or blend mode. Use pulse setting, pressed for about 10 seconds, if the mixing seems not to include the top part. Once it starts making a funnel, revert to liquefy or blend mode to make the mixture smoother.

Ahhhh! Sarrrrap!

In a few weeks' time, we will have the chance to get "real" strawberries...as real as picking them straight from the strawberry farms around here...not sure how sweet they will be as they have not seen sunshine in weeks! But then again, if made sweet by ice cream and sugar, or if made into jams, being tart will be a plus anyway.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Reader's Photo Gallery #5

Thanks to BabieBoo for this set of photos of supersoft ensaymada that she made.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Baked Peanut Chicken with Peanut Sauce

Since working on 12-hour shifts, our family had spent more and more time eating at a Chinese restaurant nearby, which is open until 9pm. My husband has developed a liking for their fried rice, peanut chicken, chicken pepper, and general tso chicken. The peanut chicken seemed like it was baked as whole breast with coating of crumbs with chopped peanuts, sliced into strips then poured with peanut sauce. I thought it was easy enough to re-create. The chicken pepper looked like they were small pieces of chicken meat (as if they were scraped from the bones), dipped in some sweet batter then deep fried, then stir-fried with bell peppers. I imagined it to be a very tedious task for some recipe made out as an afterthought of what to do with the small almost insignificant pieces of chicken meat, so I was not at all interested to re-create it at home the way I imagined it to be. Maybe someday I will try to come up with my own version. General Tso recipe can be found everywhere, but I am not too inclined to have it -- too sweet and hot for me.

The first time I tried to make peanut chicken, I did good with the baked chicken, but not the sauce (trying to make it without a recipe as a reference). This time, I looked for a recipe that had a photo that looked like the peanut sauce we are familiar with now, then looked for an alternate recipe that had almost the same ingredients except the coconut milk, since I never imagined the peanut sauce from that Chinese restaurant having any coconut taste.

I baked the chicken using my nu-wave since I was gonna cook only one breast (I marinated the other breast along with other cuts for grilling sometime later). To supplement this (I knew it was not enough to feed my family for one supper), I cooked shrimps with ketchup sauce (a favorite of my sons), and stir-fried some small chicken meat pieces with zucchini for the vegetables (All the chicken came from one whole that I pulled out from my freezer last night to thaw. The bones were almost stripped of all meat, but I still simmered it for stock). All were eaten with plain rice. Husband likes eating plain rice flavored with nutmeg, salt and sugar, and half n half. This peanut chicken earned his approval!

I ended up having some leftover chicken and shrimps, and lots of leftover stir-fry.


Baked Peanut Chicken
1 cup roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped (I got raw Spanish peanuts from Spice of Life)
1 packet Shake n Bake (extra crispy)
1-2 tsbp soy sauce
1 whole chicken breast

Peanut Sauce
1 cup creamy peanut butter (do not use old-fashioned style or freshly ground)
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can chicken broth (I used my homemade chicken stock)
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (I actually used lemon; that's what I had on hand)
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons chopped peeled fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

Marinate the chicken breast with the soy sauce for about 30 minutes to one hour.

Meanwhile, prepare the sauce ingredients.
Mix peanut butter with chicken broth thoroughly, then add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

Bake the chicken at 350 deg F on one side for about 15-20 minutes then flip over and cook another 15-20 minutes or until done. If it tends to burn easily on a 4-inch high grate, use the 2-inch. (I am still trying to get to know nu-wave, so I am still groping my way through here.)

(For conventional oven, pre-heat oven to 400 deg F, then grill chicken for about 20-25 minutes on each side. Bake until done.)

While waiting for chicken to cook, simmer the peanut sauce for about 30 minutes or until you achieve desired thickness.

Slice chicken pieces then pour peanut sauce over.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Reader's Photo Gallery #4

Thanks to Ebie and Z (mother-daughter blogging tandem -- they are so cool!), to Thet and to Emma for the photos they submitted for the gallery!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Pan-Fried Salmon Steaks

My kids and I love the taste of salmon...even plain with just the barest of seasonings - salt and pepper. And since wild Alaskan salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids (a healthy fat), this also cooks on the pan with very little oil to start with, as it also releases its own oil as it cooks, and comes out with crispy crust, almost like it was deep-fried, especially at the belly part. You can pretty much say "na-prito sa sariling mantika" (fried in its own oil). When summer is here, these are the most craved for dishes for me, and would be more so when I start producing my own tomatoes freshly picked from my garden. (That reminds me, this is also a good time to make salted eggs.)

Photo depicts how we Filipinos typically enjoy our fried fish -- with slices of tomatoes, green onions (or chives, as how I used here), and onions (I used Vidalia just for the taste of it), with a drizzle of patis (fish sauce) and some lemon juice, enjoyed with plain (or fried) rice. Pinoy na Pinoy! A lot of our typical Filipino meals are not at all gourmet, but if you look at food mags of today (like bon appetit), they are looking more and more like the Filipino style of enjoying food. Maybe because of the growing concern about going back to the basics of food (a rebellion against industrialization of food)...oh well...I am babbling here, an after effect of reading the book "The Omnivore's Dilemma" by Michael Pollan. Well, let's get on with how I prepare my salmon steaks -- nothing fancy gourmet-y. Just plain home cooking, Pinoy style.

1 tbsp oil
salmon steaks
salt and pepper to taste

For tomato dip/salsa (whatever you call it!)
3 medium tomatoes, diced
onion greens, snipped
thin slices of vidalia onions to taste
1-2 tbsp fish sauce (or anchovy paste)
a drizzle of lemon juice (best to use calamansi if available)
(optional) fresh baby spinach

Sprinkle salmon steaks with salt and pepper to taste. Heat up your pan on medium low (#4) for 5 minutes. (Meanwhile, you can start preparing the tomato dip/salsa.) Add oil and distribute evenly; wait 1-2 minutes. Place the salmon steaks on the pan and let cook one side for 2 minutes. Flip over, cover loosely, lower the heat to #2 and let cook for another 4 minutes or until salmon is done (test with fork; if fish easily flakes off, it is done).

Enjoy with prepped tomato dip/salsa and plain or fried rice.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

KNB: Deviled Egg Platter


I was looking for a platter for deviled eggs, which I plan to prepare for my son's graduation party on Thursday (I have been busy so I blog less often at present), and for July 4th. Nothing was really tickling my fancy until I saw this one. And when it finally arrived, although it looked more like a wedding gift (complete with a decorative box at that!), I loved how it also signified spring to me, with the bird salt and pepper shakers and the intricate floral design at the center. The ceramic was of good quality, so it was not like it was gonna break with the usual handling. (I do have a dinnerware set that I made a mistake of buying; they were so fragile!)

A bit pricey, but well worth it!

UPDATED 6-16-09 to include the above photo with deviled eggs. The deviled eggs here were made using homemade pickle relish and mayonnaise to taste (as prepped by my SIL).

Sunday, June 07, 2009

PROBLEM SOLVED even though I did not do anything!

UPDATE (6-8-09)
As I was taking my lunchbreak from gardening, after I told my husband about my slideshow problem (and him thinking it probably had to do with our firewall, and that he was gonna check it out as soon as he could), I was browsing the web, and my kusina, and suddenly realized my slides were up again! And I tried to open the website of slide.com and there it was, with all my slideshows...my husband did not even start to do anything with our firewall yet! I felt like it was a "Twilight Zone" moment for me...

Well, I will upload the pics for the next photo gallery later tonight. I have to finish my gardening tasks for now.


Is it just me? Or do all my kusina readers experience the same thing?

I don't see them anymore...whether I use Firefox, IE, or google chrome, I just do not see my slideshows, the website itself (slide.com -- always not found), and or course, all the slideshows I have created there since 2006... :(

The thing is, I have been googling about the problem, and I have found no article pertaining to this. As if I am the only one experiencing this. It is frustrating. I do not even know if a forum exists since the main website itself could not be found. I was hoping to find answers somewhere on the net, but there isn't any.

The only slideshows still on are the ones I made using picasa/google...I hope this is only temporarily, because these slideshows have made it very easy for my readers to visualize how to cook/bake some of my recipes, and it has become a signature for my kind of blogging.

I just hope the instructions are still pretty clear for others to still be able to follow even without photos, especially the baking part, of my archives. Maybe in the next posts I will avoid relying on slideshows. I am looking at a paid software, but how reliable will it be???

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Beef Mechado

Beef Mechado on  bed of rice
What's the differece between beef mechado and kaldereta? Different people have tried to describe the two. I have my own, too, but first, the similarities: beef chunks (or roast), garlic, onions, bell peppers, tomato sauce, bay leaves, peppercorn, potatoes, carrots.

Now for the differences:
Kaldereta - add liver paste or sausage (or if I had it, Reno liver spread), and cheese. Other optional add ons usually include black olives.

Mechado - add soy sauce and vinegar (others use only soy sauce), and snap beens (aka Baguio beans) (plus I added celery here)

The two definitely differ in taste, but both are awesome! And hubby likes 'em both! They are very American-friendly Filipino dishes, and my kids love bringing them to school for lunch, though they never care to learn what they are called aside from "beef stew."

2 lbs stew meat (beef cut in chunks)
3 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium onion, diced
1/4 cup sliced celery
1/2 cup diced bell peppers (green and red)
1/4 cup soy sauce (I actually used 2 tbsp of Tamari soy sauce and then regular soy sauce to make up 1/4 cup total)
1/4 cup (red wine) vinegar
2 bay leaves
10 peppercorns (appoximate)
salt to taste (I used about 1 tsp kosher)
1 (15-oz) can tomato sauce
1 big or 3 small potatoes, cubed
1 big carrot, cubed (I did not have any at the time)
2 cups snap beans

I made use of pressure cooker for this, since I wanted to be able to cook this up quickly in time for supper. We were busy during the earlier part of the day working out in the garden.

Heat the pressure cooker empty on medium high for about 3 minutes. Add oil, saute the garlic, onions, celery, and bell peppers. Add the beef, and saute until brown. This will results to beef sweating and will put out about 1/2 cup of liquid. Sprinkle salt and stir. Add the tomato sauce, vinegar and soy sauce. Stir and close the lid. Pressure-cook as directed by your manufacturer for 15 minutes (starting to count the minutes once the pressure valve pops up; don't forget to switch to low heat enough to maintain a steady gentle steam coming out of the lid). Meanwhile, cut the potatoes and carrots into cubes. Microwave for about 2-3 minutes to partially cook. Once 15 minutes are up, add the potatoes and carrots and stir. Close the lid tightly (do not set to pressure cook; just keep tight) and cook for 3 minutes; add snap beans, stir, cover tight again and turn off heat. By the end of this cooking, the sauce has thickened enough, thanks to potatoes and all the flavors have blended wonderfully. Serve as topping for fried rice (if you are Pinoy) or with bread/biscuit (if you are a Westerner). I served it with biscuit to hubby (quick enough to prepare compared to bread).

(Cooking style will vary with regular pot. You may have to add water to prevent drying up. Of course, cooking time for beef will also vary and may reach 45 minutes to an hour to cook this cut until tender. You, the cook, will just have to grope your way into cooking the rest of the ingredients. Potatoes and carrots added together will probably take 15 minutes (or you may add the carrots 5 minutes later), then snap beans will require 2 minutes or so depending on how cooked you want it.)

Monday, June 01, 2009

LaPiS: pearlySHELLS


I was sooo pleased when I found this at Walmart, not only because it was on sale, but because it was a Capiz artwork! And when I flipped it over, it was made in the Philippines. Too bad it cannot be used for food ("may cause food poisoning").

Capiz --

The Capiz shells when used as ornaments and decors turn simple living into elegant and cozy-looking environment. It is well known to be a good indoor as well as outdoor d├ęcor major raw material. The Capiz shell products are also very well recognized in the world market because Capiz is the only living paradise for the Capiz shells that can be found in their vast sea treasure chest.

Some popular Capiz shell chips decorating design include gift items, indoor decoration and outdoor decoration ornaments. “Captivating Capiz” chip-made products range from lanterns, lamp shades, window pane, chandeliers, curtains, picture panels and frames, Capiz shell balls, plates, decorative bowls, candle holders, tiles, flower vase, door hanging chime, soapdish, pendant, globelight, necklace decor, beads, bird cage, floor lamp holders, faux chandelier, gift boxes, collection item rack and many more.

From internetphilippines.com

However, I was not too sure how authentically Capiz this is...it easily chips off at the edges...oh well...I just wanted a Pinoy touch in my kitchen decor. Maybe I could put some wrapped candies on it, or salt and pepper shakers...

This is my entry for this week's edition.

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