"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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Friday, July 24, 2009

KNB: Punch Fountain and a Punch recipe

I was looking for a punch bowl at amazon.com, and I don't know how I came across this punch fountain. I read the reviews and decided to try it. My kids (and adult visitors as well) have had fun getting punch from it! I'd say for the price, it was worth it!

The recipe that follows I got from one who purchased it, was satisfied, and she shared the recipe of the punch she makes. She emphasized to pour the ginger ale soda (or any carbonated drink) very slowly or else, the bubbles might clog the pathway.


Mix together ahead of time, chill then pour into the bowl --
4 cups cranberry cocktail juice
4 cups pineapple juice
1 cup white sugar
1 tsp almond extract

Add s-l-o-w-l-y just after you set up the fountain and poured the mixture above --
1 liter (4 cups) ginger ale soda

Did the kids enjoy the fountain and the punch? You bet they did!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

KNB: Tropical Plants - Pandan, Banana, Bamboo

I have been wanting to be able to find a place to get pandan, because McCormick pandan flavoring and the canned extract could not really compare to freshly boiled young pandan leaves. I searched the internet until I came upon a forum that led me to ebay. I got pandan from Thailand! I also got some banana plants, not knowing which ones will give me familiar flavors that come closer to those in the Philippines, but I do want to have nice big leaves. I got a hardy bamboo from a different US-based vendor hoping it will be hardy enough to survive our winter here (quite expensive!), and hopefully in about 2-3 years I will be able to harvest shoots and cook them (part of controlling growth in case it gets too invasive). And though it is not real food, I got jasmine as food for my soul. I have been brave to get these tropical plants (except for bamboo, which I am kinda doing a trial-and-error thing with) because my husband has started working on our sunroom (he just finished the decking for our newly installed pool). Last night, after receiving 3 pandan plants in great condition from as far as Thailand, I got excited to order some more tropicals (Ylang-ylang, malunggay, guava, kalamansi plant because mine is not flowering/fruiting, and have placed a bid on sampaguita). I am crossing my fingers that these will all thrive even during winter, and I will try my best to learn how to prune so the trees won't grow taller than 11 feet.

Hopefully, I will have my tropical paradise in the winter.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Minatamis na Saging

Thanks a bunch to elena montaniel for being my guest blogger today! She sent me the link to her slide show for detailed instructions (and mouth-watering photos) of Minatamis na Saging. (How I wish I had access to saba! Anyone knows the English or scientific name of this particular species?)


2 big Saba bananas sliced crosswise
Few drops of lemon juice
2-3 tbsp butter
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

Topping: (optional)

Slices of Leche Flan
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Condensed milk

(the original recipe calls for 1/2 cup of honey. I didnt have any at that time so I mixed water and brown sugar which worked as well. If honey is used, the bananas will be dark brown in color)


1. Fry bananas in butter.Remove from pan and set aside.
2. In a different saucepan, mix the water, brown sugar,lemon juice & vanilla. Simmer. Add the fried bananas. Let simmer for few more minutes.
3. When cooked, remove from pan. Best served when chilled.

Serving suggestion:

1. Place a serving in a dessert plate.
2. Top with slices of leche flan, condensed milk (you can put condensed milk as much as you want) and then cinnamon powder.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Summer Nostalgic Tripping - Ube Ice Cream Sandwich

After a marathon at work last week, I baked pan de sal on the last night, because I was craving to have ube ice cream as filling in it! Yummy nostalgic food trip! (When I was a child, our family and the bakers would sometimes get this kind of tripping for freshly baked monay during summers.) Loved the contrast of hot and cold, crispy crust and melting ice cream....

I just wished someone else prepared it for me.... :( However, nakakaalis naman ng pagod after ko makain yung 2 pieces on this plate. Tsalap!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Cream Cheese Squares

Cream Cheese Squares
Trabahong tamad...perfect with coffee. Got it from kraftfoods magazine.

I enjoyed it plain or with blueberry sauce (made by cooking 2 pints blueberries with 1/4 cup water and as much sugar as I felt it needed, cooked until syrupy).

Store leftovers inside plastic ziploc bags refrigerated. Good even when cold. No need to reheat.

2 cans (8 oz. each) refrigerated crescent dinner rolls, divided
2 pkg. (8 oz. each) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg, slightly beaten
3/4 cup sugar, divided
2 Tbsp. ground cinnamon


PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Unroll 1 of the cans of crescent dough. Press onto bottom of greased 13x9-inch baking pan to form crust, firmly pressing seams together to seal.

BEAT cream cheese, vanilla, egg and 1/2 cup of the sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Spread onto crust.
Spreading the Cream Cheese mixture
UNROLL remaining can of crescent dough onto large sheet of wax paper. Pat out dough to form 13x9-inch rectangle, pressing seams together to seal. Invert over cream cheese mixture to form top crust; discard wax paper.

BAKE 30 to 35 min. or until golden brown. Combine remaining 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon in small bowl; sprinkle over squares before cutting.

Store in plastic bags to keep from drying out

Friday, July 17, 2009

Food Trip Friday: Ihaw-ihaw

On one of those RARE sunny days here, I prepared inihaw (grilled) na tilapia and shrimps...fried rice prepared by my older son Patrick. I also grilled hotdogs for my hubby's sake.

I had a mix of tomatoes, ginger, onions, salt and pepper with lemon juice inside tilapia's belly. Sarap magkamay!!!

Tips for those who have not grilled tilapia: DO NOT REMOVE THE SCALES. They will "insulate" the flesh from the heat preventing overcooking and drying. A big tilapia will probably cook within 15-20 minutes (or more depending on how big the fish is) with the lid of the grill closed. If you want, fire up on high one side, let tilapia sear on both sides for 5 minutes each, then place on low side of grill, close lid and cook further until done. To check for doneness, pry with a fork at the thickest part. If flesh flakes, it is done.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Char-Broil Grill

My favorite cooking gadget for this season....

After we ourselves installed our pool, we have been enjoying bumming under the sun when weather permits.

When hubby bought this, I was busy cleaning up the house. He went to home depot and sent me a picture message. I immediately went online and looked at the bad reviews of that product, called him about it, then he looked for the next cheap grill, still bad reviews. This one is the third cheapest, with mixed reviews so we went for it.

I have no real complaints so far...

Monday, July 13, 2009

Chicken and Zucchini Stir-Fry

When I do cut up a whole chicken for purposes of cooking adobo or BBQ, etc., I end up with the chicken back, which is mostly bones and very little meat. Sometimes I boil the whole thing for stock (and later on get the meat for arroz caldo or mami), but sometimes I patiently try to cut the meat off the bones for use in stir-fries.

Since this is a season to get fresh zucchini (and summer squash) from the grocery stores, it is a good time to stir-fry them together.

1/4 to 1/2 cup of bite-sized chicken meat, marinated with soy sauce (enough to coat) for 30 minutes
1 small zucchini
1 small summer squash
2 tbsp oil
2 stalks celery
1 small onion
red and yellow bell peppers (I used a handful, diced)
1 cup cold chicken broth, mixed with 1 tbsp cornstarch (have extra mix of 1/4 cup broth with 1 tbsp cornstarch just in case you still need to thicken)
salt and pepper to taste

Slice all veggies as shown on photo.
Heat wok or skillet on medium, add oil and let heat up. Stir fry onion and celery until translucent, add the chicken and cook until chicken is browned. Add zucchini and summer squash, and the bell peppers and stir-fry about 1 minute. Stir in chicken broth/cornstarch mixture and cook until thick (or you may have to add some more broth/cornstarch mixture). Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Patrick's Ice Cream Creation

My son is also quite the adventurous eater. This is how he usually likes his ice cream:

Waffle bowl
vanilla ice cream
whipped cream
chocolate sauce
maraschino cherry

Chicken and Pork BBQ (Pinoy style)

Every working Pinoy or even high school/college student probably has been exposed to the wonderful flavor of Pinoy-style BBQ. Merienda or lunch, it never fails to satisfy our tummy. The vendor who has the yummiest marinade can be guaranteed of income that will rival that of a blue- or even white-collared job in the Philippines, as long as he/she has the perfect spot - usually near schools or wet markets.

I was working with a nurse before, whose husband was laid off, and turned to selling lunch at work for extra income. We loved their BBQ. I, being a working mother then, did not have much experience in cooking save for the usual sautee, boil, fry, with my specialties being the leche flan and lumpia. I asked for their recipe for their BBQ, because back then I would only marinade mine in adobo mixture then grill...not achieving the results I wanted. Since I was already about to leave the Philippines, she told me what she did with the adobo marinade: add ketchup, sugar and 7-up. No recipes, really, but I had that in mind.

The closes recipe I saw online was that of ut-man's chicken BBQ, and with addition of some ingredients, here is now my recipe...

Ingredients and Instructions:
Meat (chicken or pork for me; about 2 kilos), marinated overnight or up to 3 days.

Marinade (amount of spices depends on your taste preference):
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 cup 7-UP
2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 head garlic, crushed
1 tbsp. salt
1 tsp freshly milled black pepper
5 bay leaves
1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional; I wanted a slight kick in my BBQ)

For grilling:
Mix 1 tbsp cornstarch with 1/2 cup cold water.
Drain the meats and reserve the marinade. Boil the marinade and add the cornstarch/water mixture gradually to thicken the sauce. This makes it easier to stick to the meat when basting while grilling.
Grill the meats on one side until the surface is dry on that side. Turn over and baste with the boiled marinade. Do the same on the other side. Repeatedly do this until the meat is done.

Simple and yummily Pinoy!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Wave-Your-Flag Cake

One of the desserts I prepared for July 4th. Made with layers of (from bottom to top):

Mamon (Filipino chiffon cake)
White Chocolate Pudding and Cream Cheese (recipe courtesy of MaMely; she suggested white choc pudding instead of vanilla. I got it from a post that she has now deleted so I cannot provide the link. I did not print out the recipe then because I was just using the laptop while making it.)
Blueberries and Strawberries

However, my son made a Florida Citrus Cake that he displayed minutes earlier than I did the flag cake, so by the time this cake arrived on the table, the FCC already was almost gone and the eaters were already scooping out the soft vanilla ice cream. Only 3 slices were eaten from this cake. Sigh! Oh well, I just wanted to be in the spirit of the July 4th.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Buco Pandan Salad

Another longed-for Filipino dessert...

I got ideas from oggi (but I don't have pandan leaves nor gulaman bars). I was adamant I would NOT ever use Jell-O for this classic Filipino dessert. For one thing, I never liked Jell-O gelatin. The consistency is just not the same. Too jiggly and soft for me. And they gel longer too. Plus, they come from animal sources (the collagen), while agar-agar is from a seaweed.

Anna, Celia and I wolfed our serving down hungrily. My kids looked freaked out by its color, but loved its taste.

WARNING: Eat sparingly. Loaded with cream cheese and heavy cream (kaya nga yummy!).

Ingredients and Instructions:

For the gelatin:
juice from 3 buco (young coconuts)
1 can (14 oz) pandan leaves extract (Maesri brand; sent to me by Deb -- Thanks!)
water (enough to reach 4 cups when combined with buco juice and pandan extract)
1 (20 ml) buco pandan flavor (McCormick)
4-6 tsp of agar-agar (available at amazon.com; I bought mine, an expensive brand, from Spice of Life here but seeing amazon's, I should have just ordered from them.)
1/2 cup sugar

Note: The suggested ratio of agar-agar to liquid on the back of the label was 1 tbsp agar-agar to 1 cup of liquid. I read from burntlumpia's post that he found 1 tsp in 1 cup gives the right consistency, and that 1 tbsp results in too firm a gelatin.

Let agar-agar stand in the mixture of liquids liquids for 15 minutes then start boiling together until agar-agar is dissolved completely. Try cooling a small amount in the fridge for about 3 minutes and check if you like the consistency. If not, add a little more and reheat until the agar-agar dissolves. Add sugar when agar-agar is completely melted (not sure if it would get in the way of dissolving the agar-agar so I added it last). Place in 13x9 glass pan; cover and chill until solid. Cut into cubes. Mix in the rest of the ingredients.

Shredded young coconut meat (I had very little from the 3 buco because only one of them had meat that was not mala-uhog, so I opened 2 cans of canned young coconuts pre-cut in triangles. I discarded the "buco" juice from those cans as they tasted like very diluted. The coconut meat that came from these cans were not too pleasing when eaten plain, but mixed as buco salad, they are ok. The frozen shredded are too mature for buco salad use. The freshly shredded ones are still the best.)

1 can kaong (palm seeds in heavy syrup); drained (optional; I added because I had it in my pantry, and goes well with coconut)

Creamy Sauce
1 (14 oz) can condensed milk
equal amount of heavy cream (use the can of condensed milk to measure)
6 oz cream cheese spread

Beat the cream cheese first until smooth. Add the condensed milk slowly, then the heavy cream. Pour into the gelatin and shredded young coconuts and let chill.

Tapioca Pearls (optional)
Boil 4 cups of water then add 1/2 cup of tapioca pearls. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Turn heat off, cover and let stand 15 minutes or until translucent. Rinse with cold water 3 times. Place in a jar then add cold water to cover and refrigerate. Add these only when serving the buco pandan salad (not sure what the effect is if you mix right away).

Note: I love placing my buco pandan in the freezer for about 30 minutes to an hour to have some ice crystals before serving.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Manang's Ube (Taro) Ice Cream

Manang Kusinera's Homemade Ube Ice Cream
Homemade Ube Ice Cream
This post is dedicated to Yvette and to every Filipino who craves for ube ice cream but has no access to ready made one.

I called it Manang's Ube Ice Cream because I did not rely on others' recipe for this. I just had the idea brewing in my head for some time now, and I dare say it was one very good idea, and it was successful at satisfying my craving for an ube ice cream.

[UPDATE: 7-8-09
I was not aware that July is officially the National Ice Cream Month, until I read about the Social-Ice Cream contest on Tangled Noodle's food blog. The contest is co-hosted by ScottySnacks and SavorTheThyme. My initial thought on the matter was that, non-Filipinos would probably welcome this with mild reception, with the final product looking so plain, and the flavor unknown to most and probably will not be appreciated by anyone who is not Pinoy, who did not grow up in the Philippines. So far, that is the kind of reception it gets from my family, so I get discouraged bringing any ube-flavored Filipino food to a non-Filipino gathering. However, with TN's prodding, I figured it would not hurt to expose to the world the unique Filipino flavors, so here goes my ube ice cream post as my entry to the said contest.

For non-Filipinos, to give you a background on ube, it is the real yam, purple yam at that. Not the sweet potato that are labeled yams in the grocery stores. Filipinos and other Asians use ube on a lot of desserts, especially ice cream and cakes, probably as often as we use coconuts or sweet sticky rice.]

After our family celebrated the 4th of July here at our house, the next day was a much better day to get together and grill foods and swim in the pool, and with a lot of leftovers (uncooked hotdogs and burgers and BBQ) I called/texted out an impromptu invitation to some of my friends for a pool party. Two of my friends came. Some of the items I served were buco pandan salad and ube ice cream (I served the buco pandan salad on the 4th and nobody among my in-laws were interested in it and I made the ube ice cream the next day using leftover homemade old-fashioned vanilla ice cream (which my in-laws and hubby love soft served as in freshly churned).

Out of the 6-qt (1-1/2 gallons) recipe I made, we had about 3.5 qt (about 2 cups less than 1 gallon) leftover. Instead of putting in the freezer to harden further, I left it in the fridge to just keep it chilled, with plans to turn it into ube ice cream. I would have made a two-hour trip to the Asian stores to get some frozen grated ube, but I remembered I had two packets of powdered ube. So even though I did not really like the ube haleya made out of powdered ube, I thought maybe it would do ok when mixed into ice cream. So I made the haleya and cooked until thick but runny enough to make it easy to mix with the ice cream even when fully cold. I even placed it in the freezer for about 1 hr or so and it was still easy to scoop out and mix with the ice cream. Then I churned to make the soft ice cream, then added the rest of the ube haleya by hand. I deep froze for about 2 hrs enough to give us some hard ice cream (at the center it was still soft).

My Filipina friends' verdict? Parang Magnolia daw("It's like Magnolia's.") [To non-Filipinos, Magnolia is a famous brand of ice cream in the Philippines.]

Me: "Pwede na i-post sa foodblog ko yung recipe?" (So,I can post my recipe in my foodblog?")
Celia: "Oo! Pwedeng pwede!" ("Yes, of course!")

Celia often visits my site too for some recipes. If she does not have success in making, say, leche flan, she is lucky enough to get a chance for an actual demonstration from me (For example, I taught her how to make caramel in the microwave).

The next day my ube ice cream was very very hard I had to zap in the microwave for 1-1/2 minutes (in increments of 30 second) to easily scoop out. But it was not icy gritty at all. Not as smooth as Magnolia in my opinion, but maybe because I added too much haleya (you know how frozen haleya can get too tough). But who complains anyway of having too much real flavor into something such as this? Our usual complaint about flavored foods (ice cream, ensaymada, etc.) is not having enough of the real flavor (bitin ba), and too often loaded with the artificial flavoring. Well, this one is packed with real goodness of ube. The pandan flavor adds volumes to its goodness.

1 gallon or less Old Fashioned Vanilla Ice Cream (Click to get to its recipe page; make 6 qt if you want to experiment with different flavors or just leave out some as plain)- refer to the link on how to make it. You NEED to have an ice cream maker, rock salt, and crushed ice. I have been using the Rival Ice Cream Maker for 3 years already.

Ube Haleya
1 packet powdered ube (4.06 oz)
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups milk
1 tsp pandan flavor (clear colored)
enough purple food coloring to achieve the tint as desired (both for haleya and the final ube ice cream mix)


Prepare the old-fashioned vanilla ice cream. Chill in the fridge good before freezing. This is your base for any flavor you want. Place the aluminum ice cream maker bucket in the freezer.

Prepare ube haleya and chill until cool enough to not melt the fat content of the heavy cream in the vanilla ice cream.

(The fat content of heavy cream, especially ultrapasteurized, plus the egg custard in the base help in emulsifying the mixture. The flour when cooked, plus the cooked ube, both help in hindering any ice lattice formation by the water content. These factors help so that the resulting ice cream will not give you ice crystals. Well, that's how I have come to understand the science behind ice cream making.)

Mix half of the ube haleya with the ice cream base. Place in the cold aluminum bucket, cover and position in the plastic outer bucket.Run the ice cream maker. Make sure the aluminum bucket is covered well before you start placing ice and rock salt around. Keep adding ice and rock salt until the motor stops running. This is the soft ice cream stage. Finish hardening the ice cream by transferring into an ice cream container and deep freezing it. Cover the top with cling wrap to avoid freezer burn if you have air space in the container.

Note: If you have a Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer and don't want to deal with the mess of rock salt and water while churning your ice cream, there is an attachment for ice cream making that you can get. This one only needs to be placed in the freezer for several hours prior to making your ice cream.  It's got lots of good reviews on amazon.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Pumpkin Cake Roll

I first tasted this when I visited my friend Fe, and I never thought I'd like pumpkin cakes of any sort, but I loved this, so I asked for the recipe. It was actually the recipe on which I based my ube cake roll.


Cake 3 eggs
1 cup sugar (white)
2/3 cup canned pumpkin
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon

Filling1 cup confectioner's sugar
4 tsp butter
8-oz cream cheese (softened at room temp)
1/2 tsp vanilla


Preheat oven to 375º F.

Mix dry ingredients together except sugar.  Beat eggs and sugar until creamy yellow and frothy. Add pumpkin puree and blend well. Add dry ingredients and beat until just blended.  Pour onto a 15 inch x 10 inch jelly roll pan

Bake at 375º F for 15 to 18 minutes or until done. Meanwhile, place paper towels (or flour sack) on the countertop and generously sprinkle confectioner's sugar. When the cake is done, flip onto the sugared paper towels (or flour sack) and peel off parchment paper. Roll up like jelly roll both the cake and the towel and cool off completely.

Prepare the cream cheese filling by blending all ingredients well. Chill until ready to spread.

Unroll and spread filling then roll up again. Wrap with foil and refrigerate. Slice when ready to serve.

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