"Kusina" = Kitchen; "Manang" = older sister

A Filipina's unabashed chronicle of her adaptations in the American kitchen. Includes step-by-step photos on how to make pan de sal, ensaymada, pan de coco, siopao, hopia, pandelimon, pianono, atsara, crema de fruta,etc., and if you are lucky, you will find videos too!

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Baking & Cooking

Please use this search engine or the labels at the lower left side to look for a recipe. Thanks!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Snow Cone Syrups

I got this set of hawaiian shaved ice's snow cone syrups upon the kids' request...and guess what, the big boy (hubby) also likes it, cherry being his favorite flavor! Stepd's fave is the blue raspberry...I just ordered two sets of 3-flavor packs to replenish cherry and blue raspberry flavors.

Why hawaiian shaved ice brand? It got the best reviews on amazon.com...the other brands apparently are not packed with real flavors. We were not disappointed.

This set includes:
Root Beer
Pina Colada
Tiger's Blood (whatever that is!)
Blue Raspberry

UPDATE 9-5-09: During one pool party celebrating my older son's birthday, my kids had fun showing it off to friends and they all had a blast making their snow cones. Today, when celebrating his birthday with relatives, my SIL and her kids had fun making snow cones and asked me where I got the machine and the syrups. This is one of the best fun food stuff to make during summer!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Reader's Photo Gallery #9

This post is long overdue...

Below is Mitzi's email and a slideshow of some photos she sent to me.

Thanks for contributing to the Reader's Photo Gallery, Mitzi!

Hello Manang,

Nagpadala ako ng pictures nung gumawa ako ng cassava suman at pan de sal. Rave reviews ang binigay ng mga boys ko (ha-ha!). Actually, marami-rami na rin akon naluto using your recipes. Most of them, first time kong na-try and almost always I am pleased with the result.

I just want to thank you for putting up your site. Sana noon ko pa na-discover yun. I can tell that you are so sincere in your mission to encourage us kitchen-challenged pinoys and pinays to at least preserve Filipino culture through its cuisine in a very foreign setting.

Best regards.

Mitzi :)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

An Open Letter to the maker of Lucia Purple Yam

To Lucia Brand of Purple Yam (grated)
Florence Foods Corporation
Navotas, Metro Manila

I chose to buy your brand the last trip I made to the Asian store because they were so purplish, it gave me hope that I would not need to use food coloring to come up with that familiar purple color of ube.

However, the very first pack I opened had a dead insect in it. I had to throw it away, and kept praying that the next ones would not have any in it.

I proceeded, quite uncomfortably, to cook the grated ube, knowing that you do not practice sanitation and hygiene in your facility, after seeing that dead insect in the first package (I bought a total of 15 packages). I was rationalizing, "maluluto din naman."

But everytime I would stir, there would appear black specks or tiny tiny twigs? or insect legs? (no hairs, though).

I felt uncomfortable because I was planning to use it to make halaya and to flavor ube ice cream, and I planned to introduce my American neighbors to the Filipino cuisine. Now I am having second thoughts. My fellow Pinays would probably do not care as long as it was cooked (or would they? Should I even serve this to them?)

If you find it difficult to maintain sanitation in your workplace, please just freeze whole or cut purple yams instead, peeled and ready to grate, and sell them as is. I believe that would even be cost-effective for you. I would be willing to buy it at the same price you are selling the grated ube. That would give me peace of mind, just like I have been buying the whole Yucca (in place of cassava) and peeling and grating them myself. I like the uncooked frozen ube better than the powder variety, but if this is the price I have to pay for the frozen grated ube, then I might reluctantly resort to using the powder, or go back to getting the not-so-purplish brand but which was clean.

I do not know if there are others who have the same experience as I do, but I am almost certain I am not alone. So if in the next times I still get such products made by you and have the same problem, I will continue to spread the word on the internet.

Now if only other Filipinos with ube plants can sell their products frozen whole/cut or as plants through ebay, I would be a happy consumer.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Reader's Photo Gallery #8

Thanks to Jane C for these photos (suki!) of pan de pastel and ube ensaymada.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

KNB: Icy Treats Snowcone and Slushie Maker

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As I said in my halo-halo post, my older son suggested we order a snowcone maker. So I searched amazon.com for snowcone maker, slushie maker, and ice shaver, and found some that reminded me of those I saw in some stalls in the Philippines.

The Paragon brand was very expensive, and yet I knew that it produces crushed ice too
chunky for me to consider for halo-halo, just a bit finer than the crushed ice my fridge makes. So on to the next...

I seriously considered the New Hawaiian Ice Shaver, because not only was it familiar (I saw it in action in one of the vendors in the Philippines), I also knew that the ice shavings produced by it was perfect for halo-halo. But when I placed it in my cart, the shipping cost was prohibitive! It was so heavy that the
S&H would have been a whooping $45! So I scratched it off...

Next I considered something made in Japan (because they make excellent blades), but the plastic body (of the pink one) seemed so flimsy that it reminded me of my sister's ice shaver when she was still in the Philippines, which when cranked threatened to fall apart. The gray one looked like metal, but the make was not specified and I did not dare try.

So I just checked out those that had high reviews, and settled for Hamilton Icy Treats after reading the negative reviews versus the positive reviews.

My very own experience with it? It definitely faster than my mandolin slicer-made shaved ice, and the only negative thing I can say about it is I have to pause and rearrange the ice so they don't stick together and get stuck that way. Otherwise, the gadget is sturdy for the purpose, the shaved ice has two settings - slushie (coarser) and snowcone (finer). Sometimes I just switch from one to the other just to dislodge the stuck ice and keep it going. The on and off switch is the cover itself (which I think is an excellent precaution to avoid cuts in children). And it is compact enough that it does not occupy too much countertop space (unlike if I bought the New Hawaiian brand).

But if I lived in Hawaii, I would have settled for that...

Monday, August 10, 2009


Longing for a taste of the Philippines on a hot summer day, after I finally encountered some yellow plantains which was suitable as substitute for saba bananas, I finally made halo-halo. I made sweetened bananas (the old-fashioned way), sweetened white camote (the same variety we have in the Philippines, instead of the orange ones. I think the white ones are sweeter.), and sweetened adzuki beans. (For making these, my technique for the banana and camote are the same: cube then boil with enough water until soft enough when you bite into a piece, about 5 minutes or so, then drain the water, put back 1/4 cup into the pot and add 2 cups of sugar and boil another 5 minutes. I choose bananas that are not too ripe, but soft enough to dent when poked. If syrup is made before adding uncooked bananas/camote, you will not get them soft enough. For the beans, I soaked the beans for about 2 hours or so, then boiled for an hour on until soft, then did the same thing with the syrup. The bad thing was, some beans were soft, some were super chewy tough! Dunno why...)[Addendum as of 8/23/09: I also made sweetened white beans and garbanzos later. I bought 1 can of each, rinsed with cold water 3 times to get rid of some saltiness, then boiled until I was satisfied they would remain soft even with the addition of syrup. Then I made the syrup by mixing 1/4 cup sugar with 2 cups water and added the softened beans and garbanzos. I placed them in jars and had to wait about 2 days before they became sweet.] I had a jar each of kaong (palm seeds) and nata de coco. I made leche flan as topping. I still have ube haleya from a previously made batch. The only things I lacked were the colored sago and gulaman (I forgot to grab some bags of sago from the Asian store, and was too lazy to look up a recipe for gulaman made with agar-agar), macapuno (could not find one!), minatamis na garbanzos (chick pea), and minatamis na langka (because I was too eager to have halo-halo! I do have some canned jackfruit which I will cook to soften).

No, I don't like ice cream on my halo-halo. Never liked it. I also never liked the big ice chips that "Iceberg" (did I remember it right?) used on their "special" halo-halo that were full of colored kaong and gulaman and hardly anything else, topped with ice cream. I liked the halo-halo I used to buy from a neighbor, with ice that is as fine as snow, over a mix (halo-halo is literally mix-mix) of a teaspoon of each ingredient, with about 1 tbsp of white sugar, some evap milk poured over the ice, topped with leche flan, which I love eating by itself, not mixed in.

My son enjoyed his with some lengua de gato. (I am still in search of a recipe that is really crispy buttery. This batch I made for the first time were too tough for my taste when they totally cooled off.)

One dilemma I had was how to come up with the scraped ice because I did not have that gadget that we use in the Philippines. I did make a block of ice the night before, and had this idea of -- don't laugh! -- using the mandolin slicer to scrape the ice. It turned out ok, though slow, and I had to keep turning the block of ice every now and then so that the markings made by the towel would provide some traction which the blade would catch. Without those, the ice would just slide and slip.

My older son, after seeing what I was doing, and finally having a taste of the halo-halo (and realizing that that taste was familiar), suggested we get a snowcone maker (what a wonderful idea! I was quite reluctant, though, because my sis used to have a manually cranked plastic ice scraper that shook so hard it threatened to fall apart, that I would have wanted the old-fashioned pangkudkod ng yelo). But doing it the mandolin way was too slow most of the ice melted right away! So eventually, I sorted through the ones available in amazon and walmart, and made my choice. I will feature that summer gadget next.

Reader's Photo Gallery #7

Elena (who shared her yummy recipe for minatamis na saging) made pichi-pichi based on my recipe.

Thanks for sharing your photos, Elena!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Bacon-Wrapped Scallops

I do not need to post a recipe here. I just bought some sea scallops (medium-sized)for grilling, instead of the bay scallops (smaller ones) that are my hubby's fave variety, because he says they are tastier. The medium size is just right for the skewers, and I think they are tasty as well (the bigger ones are definitely not!). I wrapped each individual scallops in bacon, held in place by the skewer, 4 pieces in one skewer. I grilled on high heat until bacon was done. Scallops easily cook anyway, and at first I was afraid of high heat, thinking it might dry up the scallops while taking quite sometime cooking the bacon. But I was wrong. It seems that the fat of the bacon kept the scallops moist. The scallops also did not brown as much (in contrast to when I pan-fry them in butter).

Though my husband tends to stick to his basic traditional foods (pan-fried scallops for him), he could not resist but try (especially that he liked the bacon-wrapped dogs), and actually liked these bacon-wrapped scallops.

As a side dish, I boiled sweet corn (nobody here likes grilled corn), and I prepared summer squash and zucchini coated with olive oil and sprinkled with Italian dressing, then roasted on the grill atop a roasting pan with holes, cooking at the same time scallops were. The kids found them delightful (they were surprised!).

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Saba Con Hielo

Another summer treat, now that I have seen some yellowish plantain bananas (thanks to elena!), I have finally made minatamis na saging myself, recipe courtesy of elena. Then since it was a hot day, I thought of turning it into saba con hielo, with the addition of crushed ice, evap milk, and some sugar to taste.

Ahhhh, it brings me back to the Philippines....

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Reader's Photo Gallery #6

I am featuring two readers here, with their emails and photos, which are one of the sources of inspiration for me. Thank you for your feedback and wonderful messages!!!

(1) THET
Email sent July 28th
Hello po manang, kamusta po? I tried the pandesal and spanish bread again.. But this time the pandesal has corned beef filling!! Yummy po sobra! Though d ko p rin po gaano magamay ung sizes pero basta masarap at makakain ok n ok po yun!!!

And the spanish bread some of them i put margarine and some are butter... Coz ,first try ko po ng margarine eh nagpanic ako kc tulad ng nasa pic nagmelt ung margarine eh the first one was with the pandesal kaya panic ako n sabi ko "hummm dapat yata hindi margarine nilagay ko dapat butter..." so i just gave the first batch of pandesal with corned beef to my husband to let him taste (pinabaon ko po =D) and then i was the one who taste the spanish bread and dang!!! Ang sarap po! Medyo nanigas ung ilalim nung nagmelt na margarine with sugar kasi lumamig na pero po ang sarap!!! Sisi nga po ako kc dko pinabaon eh sana natikman ng asawa ko.. Hehehe

And the picture shown below medyo i baked it to 375 degrees ksi the first batch was kinda lighter eh.. And it wasn't rise that long (nagmamadali po kc para maibaon) heheheh pero masarap daw po according to my husband and his officemates!!! KAYA PO MANANG, maraming maraming Salamat po sa recipes nio and dun din po sa PM mail natin... Nways bef i forgot i change my flour po pala kaya medyo me lasa at di na katulad ng lasang papel po ung bread na nagawa ko... Kc po i almost send a message again to u coz been wondering why my bread tastes like that eh.. Para pong dry ung bread... Until i tried the japanese flour cencia n po dko mabigay ung brand kc ala po english translation eh... Ayun po naging ok n lasa..

Again po maraming salamat!!! Sa uulitin po...=D God bless

(2) JANE
Email sent July 31st
Thanks so much for the recipe! It's another achievement for me because of you.First time try and I have made it perfect and yummy!!! My son loves it so much that he ask for more and more....Hubby's still at work. Let's see whats his comment about it.baka hinde na makarating ng babaunin for tomorrow. hehehe... Thank you again Manang! God bless your talent and for sharing it to us! Cheers! =)

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Mango Shake/Slushie

I don't really have a recipe. This is more like a slushie using a blender to crush the ice.

I used 2 mangoes (the red variety available in hannaford), about 2 cups of crushed ice (using pyrex glass measuring cup), enough water to make crushing easy (maybe about 1/2 to 1 cup), and about 1/4 cup of sugar (or to taste; just add some more if you feel like it).

I would have wanted to use the green mangoes if they were available but they are never available here...I had a taste of green mango shake back in the Philippines and was pleasantly surprised at the taste of it...tart vs sugary sweetness...it was sooo good!

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