"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!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Reader's Gallery # 12

This latest email with photos I received from MPC sounds like a blog post. She definitely has a very engaging style of writing.

Thank you so much for your email and photos (I love your teapot!) and your wonderful feedback!

"Dear Manang,

I never thought I'd say this, but I successfully made Ensaimada and Pandesal this weekend after reading your blog for the first time last Thursday!

For me, home-made Pandesal and Rich Ensaimada was practically an urban legend.
I've always imagined that breadmaking is only limited to bakeries who have access to a Pugon or other Industrial Ovens whose temperature can shoot to a high 500 degrees or at least those who would be lucky enough to possess a terracotta Pizza Stone! (sighs) So I just got to be contended with dabbling on flatbreads and baking cupcakes, brownies and cookies. (I make a mean Chocolate Chip Cookie, learned it from reading the back of labels of Nestle and Hershey products, where else?! heehehe)

Then I chanced upon your blog after searching for a good Ensaimada recipe. Long story short, I got tired of eating Pita Bread, Focaccia, Tortilla, good as they are, but after 3 straight days?! Balik pinoy pa rin ako! hehehe.

So on to search for Pinoy recipes..

Other than the fact that your blog was very user-friendly, the recipes were very easy to understand and the illustrations were a great help.

I successfully made "home-baked Buttery/Supersoft Ensaimada" on my first attempt (a few tweaks like combination of shortening and margarine, less egg yolk, no cheese ... in other words, "kung ano lang available na ingredients ko that night", hehehe) I also made Pandesal almost immediately after baking the Ensaimada (super excited?!). Thus, my back is practically aching right now propably from all the kneading that I did. I don't have a bread machine nor do I have access to Rapid Rise Yeast (only ADY) so everything had to be done manually. Ang yabang ko pa with the "coil" method of Ensaimda since I had a lot of time to spare, but after the 20th piece my fingers were practically twisted!

Ang hirap pala, especially for first timers like me! Kaya pala may "pang tamad" na method, para shortcut! hehehehe.

BUT, after one taste of the Ensaimada and another of the Pandesal... alas! I'M IN BREAD PARADISE.

I ate 5 fairly large ensaimadas right out of the oven, and gave the rest to my family, otherwise, baka atakihin na ko sa puso! (hehehe) Quite a novelty, "Death by Ensaimada?" hhmmm...

Manang, you are truly heaven sent Many thanks for your kindest generosity in sharing
your ideas with the rest of the world. Your recipes are to be treasured and passed on for many generations.

May God continue to bless you and your family.



P.S. I was able to take a picture of a few pieces of breads before my family wolfed it all down. In a few minutes, ubos na siya! Hence, I'm off to make another batch today "if I I still value my life" (as in kung gusto ko pa mabuhay!) hehehe.

Much love from the Philippines ... MPC

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

After my first ever successful (as in not flat!) chocolate cookie chip recipe, I looked for another recipe to try to see if I would get another satisfactory result. And I did, with these cookies that have both semi-sweet and white chocolate chips. Recipe courtesy of Bev who posted it on recipezaar. I edited the procedure because it was quite confusing, and changed dark brown to light brown because that was what I had on hand and it turned out great anyway.

All the kids and the big boy (and me!) loved these cookies.

22 min | 10 min prep

36 Cookies
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup vegetable shortening
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips


Place oven rack at the center. Preheat oven to 350°F degrees.
Whisk flour, baking soda and salt together; Set Aside.
Cream the sugars, butter, shortening, eggs and vanilla together using handheld mixer.
Mix in Flour Mixture into Creamed mixture just until blended.
Then Stir in chocolate chips.
Scoop out and drop onto parchment paper on cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Form into pyramids for thicker cookies.
Bake on center rack of oven 12-14 mins, until lightly browned and edges are set.
Remove from oven; wait about 2 minutes to firm up; transfer to wire rack to cool.

Note: You can reuse the parchment paper after you have removed the baked cookies.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Crispy Pata, the Healthier Way

How do you cook crispy pata with less guilt? Use the oven!

No wasted gallons of cooking oil...no need for oversized pots....no splatters!

And you end up with crispy pata that has the crackled look on the skin, which has dripped some of its melted fat onto the pan it sits on (and you can even use the drippings to make pork gravy later)...

How to make crispy pata the healthier way?

This was a eureka moment for us... We were celebrating my friend Fe's birthday party last Saturday. As I said in my previous post, I brought pandan chiffon cake (which Fe and her son love!) Cecilia brought a big chunk of pork pata that she had been cooking since 3:30 am and still had not achieved the crunchy skin stage (we know about the skin being smooth and crunchy on traditional lechon...that's what we wanted to achieve). When we arrived at Fe's house, she was still out WORKING! But she was coming home soon, so we started to fiddle with her oven. We really did not know how to set the digital controls...We placed the pan on the lower third of the oven.

When she came back, we cooked rice...then she noticed the lechon...and that the oven was warm but not baking at that time she checked (off, in other words!). Cecilia went on to say, "Hindi pa malutong yung balat eh. Pano ba gamitin yang oven mo?" Fe checked, and said, "I-broil na lang natin." So she set her oven to broil.

After 5 minutes we took a look and saw what you see in the pictures on the slideshow above.

I then realized...the traditional way to cook chicharon or lechon kawali or crispy pata was to boil the pork/rind first in some mixture of water, vinegar and spices, then dry, then deep-fry. This accidental discovery was the short cut method in that you cook the pork first by roasting for about 3 hours to fully cook it (provided you brined the pork or flavored it somehow with spices prior, or placed spices like lemongrass, bay leaf, peppercorn, etc. underneath the roast while roasting, along with a sprinkle of garlic salt on the skin), then broil to create the crackled effect on the skin. (Did I not post about chicken skin chicharon, where I said I turn it to chicharon by using my nuwave to broil/bake the pre-cooked chicken skin? I also posted about smaller pork roast using the rotisserie after cooking/boiling and letting dry the chunk of pork pata.)

We wolfed down this roast in less than 30 minutes...nagpipigil pa so everyone (including our kids) can have his/her share! The thing was, we did not have Sarsa ni Mang Tomas! So we just made our own alternative dip of vinegar with chili, soy sauce, salt and pepper.

The cut that Cecilia brought had no skin underneath, but if you will try this method using pork pata with skin all around, I suggest that once the "cooking" phase is done and you are ready to broil the pata, use a wire rack to elevate the pata so the underside is open to hot air and is not soaked in juices, then after crisping the top, rotate so you crisp the bottom also (have not tried this, but it is an idea.)

Try it yourself! You won't regret it!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Pandan Chiffon Cake

Pandan Cake
Before I start, may I please request for one of my readers to please send me some more of pandan paste (as in the slide show below) or the canned pandan extract (that I used in buco pandan salad)? I would gladly pay for them (just could not find them here). My previous supply was sent by a co-blogger, stel of babyrambutan.net, and my present pandan and buco-pandan extracts were sent to me by Deb from California. Thanks to them, but I do not feel like requesting from them again. Dyahe....

The pandan chiffon cake recipe I have below is courtesy of my online friend Helen in Australia. I made it for the first time last Friday to bring to my friend Fe's birthday celebration last Saturday.

Helen cuts the sugar and coconut milk in half per her preference. I used the exact amounts stated in the procedure and still found the cake a bit less sweet than I had anticipated, although the sweet frosting made up for it. Fe, however, is like Helen in that she always cuts her sugars in half whenever she makes cakes, rolls, or kakanin. It is a matter of preference, so feel free to experiment with yours.

The pandan butter-coco-cream frosting was something I made up basing on some online recipes I found.

(The chocolate writing on the frosting was melted semi-sweet morsels that I piped out to write onto a parchment paper then cooled. Too bad it broke when I was trying to stand it up on the cake, so we just laid it down.)

Just this afternoon, Fe called me to ask whether I had posted the recipe yet, because she only had a slice of our leftover (We had two cakes, a white cake from my friend Ana, and this one, so Fe ended up with leftover of both. She had half of pandan cake left that Saturday). Then her son had finished the rest of the leftover, so now she wants to bake one.

Thanks, Helen, for this delightful pandan chiffon cake recipe!

2 cups cake flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 cup sugar or to taste
1/3 cup oil
6 egg yolks
1 cup coconut milk
1 tsp pandan extract (I used paste)

6 egg whites
1 tsp lemon (or vinegar)
1/2 cup sugar

-Pandan Butter-Coco-Cream Frosting-
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 tsp buco pandan extract (McCormick)
2-4 cups confectioner's sugar (depends on how sweet you want it)

Sift dry ingredients together (up to 3 times, ideally). Mix well.
Make a well at the center then add oil, yolks, coconut milk and pandan paste. Mix well.
Beat egg whites with vinegar until soft peak forms. Add sugar slowly while beating, beat until stiff but still glossy (do not overbeat).
Add a little of the meringue to batter mixture and blend well, before slowly folding in the rest of the batter into the beaten whites.
Pour into an UNGREASED bundt pan or angel food cake pan (no grease apparently helps keep the volume fluffed up by helping the cake cling onto the walls).
Bake at 350 deg F for 45-50 minutes.
After baking, invert onto a wire rack WITHOUT REMOVING THE PAN. Let the cake COOL COMPLETELY before easing it out of the pan. You may use spatula to let the cake loose. (Again, these apparently help keep the chiffon cottony fluffy.)

Note: The emphasis I made in the procedures were tips I read about AFTER I made the cake. My chiffon cake was quite dense but still of satiny texture, and maybe I should have read more on those tips to maximize its volume and make it lighter.

For the icing, heat up the coconut milk on medium, stirring constantly until creamy. Let cool.
Cream the softened butter with 2 cups confectioner's sugar and pandan flavor, and add the coconut milk gradually. Taste if you like the sweetness already. If not, add some more sugar to taste. If it becomes to thick, you can thin to your desired spreading consistency by adding a little (about 1 tbsp increments) of regular milk or cream (if you have run out of heated coconut milk).

Let cake cool completely before spreading the pandan icing/frosting.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Reader's Gallery # 11

Thanks to Jane for sharing her photos of empanada.

Manang K,
Thanks for the recipe again... this is my second attemp to bake Empanada, my first is when I was pregnant ( last year pa yun) hehehe. My hubby loves it so much and even my baby.=) di ko na napicturan si hubby 3 bite lang yung empanada ubos na yung 1 piraso.
Thanks again Manang, now I can say everyone can bake!!!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Pork Sesame Siopao (Pork Sesame Steamed Buns)

Manang's Pork Sesame Siopao
Pork Sesame Siopao
I have long posted about how I turn leftover beef pares into siopao or the baked version beef asado roll. Now I made use of leftover pork roast (the one with Mang Tomas Sarsa, but if you plan to do the same, you can also use the simple pork roast with just salt and pepper, or leftover meat from a whole lechon, as long as you remove the fat first).

I got the sauce ingredients from Gary Lee's WOK Appetizers and Light Snack cookbook. It has wonderful flavor! I brought these to my friend's birthday (along with Pandan Chiffon Cake) and our kids just gobbled them up in no time!)

Ingredients and Procedures:

2 cups leftover roasted pork (fat trimmed off, then meat chopped roughly)


1 medium onion, chopped (optional)
1 tbsp oil (optional)
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 cup water
2 tbsp oyster sauce

Trim fat and chop the meat, then set aside.
(optional) On medium heat, sautee onion in oil. [Since I had onions in my leftover pork, I skipped this part)
Mix all other ingredients and whisk well. Add to pan and whisk to cook until thick.
Add sauce to meat and mix well. Chill overnight or until cool enough to feel solid.

Dough (I used my favorite siopao dough for Parker House Rolls, as I posted in previous siopao entry)

4-3/4 to 5-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 envelopes RapidRise Yeast (1 env has 2&1/4 tsp)
1-1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 large egg

In large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, sugar, undissolved yeast, and salt. Heat milk, water, and 1/4 cup butter until very warm (120o to 130oF). Stir into flour mixture. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed of electric mixer, scraping bowl occasionally. Add egg and 1/2 cup flour; beat 2 minutes at high speed. 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.

Instructions to assemble:

Cut or pinch off dough into just a tad bigger than a pingpong ball and lay on greased baking sheet. Let rest for further 10 minutes to develop the gluten some more and give you more volume to play with as you fill each piece with the meat mixture.

Flatten each piece using your palm, making the edge thinner than the center. Scoop out roughly a tbsp of the filling and place at the center of the dough. Pull the edges to envelope the filling and pinch to seal. Place seam side up (if you want it smooth like I do), of you may want to do it the same way the Chinese make them (turn them into graceful pleats that are positioned at the top). Place on coffee filters cut into squares (cut in half, then fold and cut again, then trim off the rounded sides to come up with squares).

Boil about a cup of water with 1 tbsp of vinegar (I used distilled). Position the buns about 1-2 inches apart on the bamboo steamer lined with either flour sack or parchment paper. Spray with some oil to lessen possible sticking to the side of the steamer or to one another. Cover and steam on briskly boiling water for 12 minutes.

Transfer to wire rack to cool before storing in ziploc and refrigerating if not consuming right away. You can also freeze at this point (lay on pan first before stuffing them all into plastic bag. To reheat, microwave each piece for 30 seconds for chilled and 1 minute for frozen while still in its ziploc bag or use a covered plate (the idea is to let it steam again with its own juice, without drying it up). It will be piping hot, so let it sit at room temp for about 1 minute before you eat. If reheating a big batch, steam again, or you can try microwaving them in a covered container for about a minute then check for hotness/coldness and heat some more in increments of 30 seconds until you are satisfied that they are hot enough.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Chicken Skin Chicharon

Not much of a post here, but just to give you an idea of how much I hate wasting food...

There are times when I would cut up a whole chicken, and remove the skins prior to cooking (let's say for chicken alfredo or chicken tocino). I then boil the bones and skin along with some seasoning for chicken stock that I use in pancit or arroz caldo. Or if I have roasted chicken then I would boil the carcass for that. In both cases, I have to have the skins pre-cooked. Then I would place them in the oven (I like using the nu wave for this purpose, sprinkle some garlic salt, and bake the skins until they are crispy and all the fat have dripped underneath. (My nu wave rack has just the right amount of surface to make chicharon out of the skin I get from one chicken. If I do have more, I will just probably deep fry on medium low heat until they get crispy and have rendered their fat to add to the oil.) It requires about 30 minutes to get to a crispy state. The thing I like about nu wave is, one glance at it and I know if it is done. No need to open.

As soon as the aroma fills the house, my kids rush down to the kitchen and ask what I am cooking, then eagerly wait for these chicharon. My kids love them!

On a side note, sometimes I chop the cooked skin and render its oil to use for sauteeing when cooking chicken-based dishes. Also, if I have oil on the broth that I prepared, I separate the fat from the broth and chill this, then gather the oil/chicken fat later, place it in a jar, and use it for sauteeing, frying rice, and in the future, I plan to try using it for chicken empanada dough. Health buffs might turn up their noses at me for this, but I am no health food fanatic and I do not pay attention to food fads...I try to stick to traditional methods of preparing foods...the less "refining" process involved, the better. The closer it is to natural state, the better. So if you have something bad to say about this, keep it to yourself and don't bother to leave a harsh opinionated comment, or I will delete it.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Blue Ridge Mountain Chocolate Chip Cookies

Blue Ridge Mountain Chocolate Chip Cookies
A confession I have to make: I had always been afraid to bake chocolate chip cookies...until I tried this recipe.

Now why was I afraid? Well, I had always used the Nestle Toll House Cookie recipe at the label of the chocolate chips, and my stand mixer, then my cookies would always be flat. If I use the Choc-Oat Chip cookie recipe, they might not be that flat...but they are still too flat for me.

This is the first time I tried a recipe off recipezaar for a cookie. And this is the first chocolate chip cookie recipe that removed my anxiety over baking cookies.

I also realized that I should stick to creaming the butter within 30 minutes of being in room temp, and to only use hand mixer instead of the stand mixer.

Then maybe I will try again Nestle Toll House recipe...we will see if those were indeed the factors that make my cookies flat.

In the meantime, my kids are happy with these, and I am gonna have them in my recipe collection here in my kusina.

Blue Ridge Mountains Chocolate Chip Cookies

30 min | 10 min prep

2 -3 dozen

1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
2 3/4 cups bleached all purpose flour (see note below)
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups chocolate chips

Note: The recipe initially calls for 2 1/2 cups flour, but with the added note if you want them more softer and rounder cookie to add 1/4 cup flour. I add the 1/4 cup making it 2 3/4 cups total.

Cream shortening, butter, sugars, then eggs and vanilla and almond extracts.

Blend dry ingredients and add to mixture.

Stir in Chocolate chips.

Drop by large tablespoons (I use cookie scoop) onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, leaving 2-inches room in between to allow cookies to spread.

Bake at 375° for 10 minutes until lightly brown.

Makes 2-3 dozen cookies depending on size.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Lengua De Gato (Cat's Tongue)

Lenguas de Gato
Who does not love lenguas de gato??? I have yet to meet one who doesn't.

I am not sure how and why I started looking for a recipe of this, but I ended up seeing a starting point with rushlynn's post here. I guess it was an attempt to use the 2 egg whites I had in the fridge, which was about 1/4 cup.

This post is a result of my third attempt at baking these delightful lenguas de gato.

The first time I tried to bake using the above link's recipe, I burned the first batch after baking for a full 10 minutes without watching carefully. I piped the dough thin and flat. The next unburned batches tasted very good, but I felt it was too tough for me. I thought maybe the flour was too much (the fluffiness of butter-sugar-eggwhites gone after beating in the flour). In any case, my kids liked it so much.

I attempted a second time, after gathering and printing out a lot of different recipes online, and experimenting with amounts, and piping them round instead of flat. It was a disaster.

So in the third attempt, I went back to the original recipe I saw, decreased the flour amount, and doubled everything, sifted the flour before adding gradually to the mixture, and beating slowly just until blended. The reason why I wanted double batch was so I would have enough to play with in case I bork up the first few batches again. I also modified the flavors, including lemon because a hint of lemon always results to more interesting flavors, and almond extract just because I love almond flavor. I went back to piping flat, bought a whole set of piping tips to get the biggest flat tip I could find, and disposable piping bags that were big enough and sturdy to remain intact as I squeeze. You will just have to excuse the odd shapes I created, as I never had artistic and steady hands.

I loved the result, and so did my husband and kids.

Hubby: (after I handed to him a handful, "Want some?") "Oh! Cat's tongue! I love that!"
(He remembered the name after I gave him some of the first batch I made!)
Later on he said to me, while still munching on them, "You know what makes them so good? They taste like the butter cookies, if you will be able to make them round with sprinkle of crystal sugars...hmmmm!"

Now that's an idea, but I don't know if they will have the crispiness if they are that thick. Maybe I should use cake flour instead, or add baking powder to puff them up...and use a cookie press. Made a mental note for such future experiments.

Kids: "Those are so good they are addicting!"

Here's my final recipe, and please feel welcome to experiment using cake flour.

1 cup butter (soften at room temp for 30 mins)- I used salted butter
1-1/3 cup sugar
4 egg whites (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 tsp salt
1-1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
few drops lemon extract
2 cups all-purpose flour (measure then sift)

piping tip (cake decorating) #47
piping bag
parchment paper (I measured out 4)
non-insulated aluminum baking sheet (I used two)
hand mixer
cooling wire racks


After getting the butter out of the fridge, time for 30 minutes and start measuring the other ingredients.

Cream the butter and sugar well.

Add the egg whites gradually, beating well.

Mix in salt, vanilla, almond extract, and lemon extract.

Add half of the flour, beat some, add the rest of the flour, and beat just until blended.

Assemble the piping bag and tip. Place some of the dough in the bag, and keep the rest chilled in the fridge.

Pre-heat the oven to 375ºF while you pipe out dough about 3 inches long, flat, and about 1/8 inch high, just a little bit wider than the piping tip, onto parchment paper.
Note: I have now been using a cardboard where I made a pattern of just straight lines that I can use as guides in piping out the dough.

(If parchment paper tends to slide off the baking pan, stick it to the pan using a thin smear of Crisco shortening at the four corners of the pan).

Space them apart about 1-1/2 inch to allow for expansion while it melts some more during baking.

Bake for about 5 minutes, rotate the pan, then bake some more for about 2-3 minutes, depending on how thick your dough is.

Transfer the parchment paper onto cooling racks, and remove the parchment paper after about 2 minutes to cool completely before transferring to a box or cookie jar.

The equipment
The piping tip
Dough in piping bag
Piped out dough
The whole tray
After baking
Cooling on wire rack
In the cookie jar
As Christmas giveaways
(1) Baking time may be shorter or longer, depending on whether your oven actually is hotter or cooler than mine, and maybe you piped out not quite exactly right. For the first batch, wait until you get the result, cool some, and have a bite. Correct the thickness and the width of the dough and baking time accordingly on the next batch, and watch carefully until you have learned the right combination of these factors. Once you got it right, proceed with better rhythm of piping the dough onto parchment paper while the other batch is baking.

(2) You can re-use the parchment paper after removing the baked lenguas. That is why 4 of them pre-cut are enough.

(3) While one pan is inside the oven, and the other pan already has dough piped on, you can place the other parchment paper on the table or countertop and pipe out some more. Once you have a hot pan out and you have removed the parchment paper and cookies, let it cool down some (at the same time you are piping dough onto PP on the table), then spray with cold water and wipe dry when you are ready to place a the next batch into the oven. (magulo ba?) What I am trying to say is, since I only had two aluminum pans, one is still warm by the time I am ready to take out the other, so to be able to place the next batch right away, my PP is ready with the dough on the table, and I just have to cool down the pan using cold tap water. With this setup, I had two PP ready on the table, just waiting for the cookies to bake while cooling down the other pan.

(4) If I try to make the piped dough higher (thicker) or so much wider, the middle part tends to get chewy instead of crispy, which I do not like.

(5) If I bake and do NOT wait for the sides to get golden brown (so that they appear light brown all over), I end up with chewy cookies even if they are flat. I don't like that.

(6) This recipe will be enough to fill half of a typical cookie jar (hard to keep track of the number, as it will vary depending on how much you pipe out per piece, and you will tend to munch some of those done while you bake the rest. It is that addicting!)

This is a good Christmas giveaway if you manage to find tin boxes liked the ones in the photo above:

UPDATE 1/7/10:
This is a feedback by Chef Vanessa (an fb friend):
"I made the recipe you shared for Leguas De Gato and my kids absolutley loved it and it didn't even hit 48 hours in the jar hahahhaa..The first recipe I made was from a site but it did not turned out right..It was too leathery and tasted like flour.Thanks for sharing that recipe!!!"

Thanks for your feedback, Chef!

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