"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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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Maple-Garlic Beef Short Ribs

I made this for supper tonight, using the exact same ingredients as the maple-garlic chicken, and the same method except that I used pressure cooker. (I added two slices of sirloin steaks for hubby because he does not like ribs -- "too much work for so little meat"). My MIL recently gave me two quartz of maple syrup, and one quart is almost out now, with some sediments forming at the bottom. We usually do not use this part of maple syrup for pancakes, but I hate throwing it away, so cooking or baking with it is the best way to use it up.

We loved the effect just as much as we did with the chicken.

1 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 cup soy sauce
3-5 lb beef short ribs
cornstarch-water mixture (probably 1/2 cup water + 3 heaping tbsp cornstarch)

Mix all the sauce ingredients. Place beef ribs in pressure cooker. Pour the sauce. Close lid and turn oven on high. Once pressure gets high, simmer for 45 minutes.
Release pressure. Turn oven to low broil. Place beef ribs on baking sheet. Broil 1-2 minutes to dry up the surface. Meanwhile, make sauce thicker using cornstarch-water mixture (Sauce should be boiling briskly, then pour the CW mixture in slow stream while stirring).
Baste beef ribs with sauce and broil two minutes. Do this two times on one side then flip over and do this again twice. Basting and broiling gives the glazed effect (the sugar content caramelizes under the high heat and gives that beautiful highly-appealing sheen).
Place remaining sauce in a gravy boat. Serve with the beef ribs. Garnish with snips of chives as desired. Serve over plain rice or mashed potatoes with boiled veggies.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Easy Shrimp Alfredo

Being crunched for time, I have to think nowadays of what I can fix quickly, easily, without need for too many ingredients. Here is one of them. My sons and I love shrimps, so I fix seafoods at times, and fix something else for hubby and stepd (or have TV dinner for them).

1 lb pasta, prepared as directed (I used rotini here, but you can use linguine or farfelle)
1 lb large shrimps, shelled
1 each of zucchini and summer squash
1-2 tbsp butter
salt, pepper and ground basil leaves
1 jar (15 oz) Classico Roasted Garlic Alfredo Sauce
1 can (~12? oz -- I forgot to take note) of Campbell's condensed cream of shrimp
Enough water to thin the sauce a bit (1/2 cup to 3/4 cup)

While cooking pasta, melt butter in saucepan, add zucchini, summer squash and the shrimps and stir fry until shrimps turn pink (about 2-3 minutes). Do not overcook, or shrimps get rubbery. Remove from pan, transfer to a bowl, and set aside. Keep warm,
Pour into the saucepan both sauces (alfredo and condensed cream). Add enough water to thin as you desire, stir until boiling. Turn off the heat. Serve on pasta and add the shrimps/veggies on top. Consume immediately.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Fiddleheads with Coconut Milk

I was craving for some vegetable-based dish one day, then one of my co-workers left a gallon bag full of fiddleheads inside the fridge for anyone interested to take home. The unit sec and I decided to divide that. That's what I cooked in a laing-inspired fashion, although I decided to add some vinegar toward the end of cooking.

My craving was satisfied, and my sons enjoyed it as well.

1/4 lb pork liempo, sliced thinly
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, sliced
2-3 tbsp patis (fish sauce)
1 (13.5 oz) can premium coconut milk (first press)
1/2 cup to 1 cup water
qt fiddle heads
salt and pepper to taste
dash of ground basil leaves
2-3 tbsp cider vinegar

Add about 1/4 cup water to pork and sautee until pork renders fat. Add salt and pepper. Add garlic and sautee until light brown. Add onions and sautee until caramelized. Add patis and let sizzle. Add coconut milk and fiddle heads. Add about 1/4 cup water and stir. Let simmer uncovered until coconut turns creamy (add water if it turns too dry). Season with salt, pepper and ground basil leaves. Add vinegar and let simmer another 5 minutes. Serve with plain rice.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Happy 101 Award

I received this Happy 101 Award from Le, a newbie foodblogger who told me I was among those who inspired her to start her foodblog (mainly because I was in the same boat she is in now when I started my own foodblog...if you don't know it yet, you can read on my About Me page).

I feel honored to be a recipient of this award, and even though lately I am very busy, I am taking some time off to (1)enumerate and reflect on things that make me happy, and (2) pass this award on to others who have been making other people inspired and happy.

10 Things that make me happy:

1. Family time (watching, outing, traditional celebrations, target shooting, just having fun)
2. My sunroom and the sampaguita flowers
3. Cooking and baking, and people appreciating my efforts (blog readers, family, friends)
4. When my patients express appreciation for what I do for them, or when I see them improve under my care
5. When our cat Mimzy jumps on my lap to be petted (she is usually snobby)
6. When my kids get good grades
7. When other people speak highly of my kids
8. When hubby reminds me how much he loves me (he does by building our house and my computer custom-made for ME)
9. Having exercise time (which I barely get nowadays)
10. Looking at our photos to see how much things/people have changed.

I am passing on the awards to:
1. MaMely of http://pinoyamericanrecipes.blogspot.com
2. Claire of http://www.clairebakescakes.blogspot.com
3. Vanjito of http://panlasangpinoy.com
4. JMom of http://amoores.com

Here are the rules:
1 Copy and paste the award on your blog.
2 List who gave the award to you and use a link to her blog (or hyperlink).
3 List 10 things that make you happy.
4 Pass the award on to other bloggers and visit their blog to let them know about the award

Sunday, April 18, 2010


Piaya --- I got my first taste of this Bacolod delicacy when my Ilonggo friend (classmate from high school to college) gave some to me. It was not love at first bite. It was more of an acquired taste for me. And after several bites, I was hooked (same thing happened to me with the pinasugbo that she also introduced me to).

A reader asked me before for the recipe, and I searched and recommended one that seemed promising. If I remember it right, it was this recipe by blueapron. While my outcome was good, it was not exactly how I remember it, or maybe it was my lack of skills in making it that made it different. For one thing, the filling crystallized and hardened after cooling (should still remain gooey and the whole piaya should remain a bit pliable still). Second, I had holes because it was quite hard to flatten the disk without making holes...I probably should have used bread flour and a little bit more water to come up with stronger dough. Don't get me wrong; the outcome was good. And I think I can remedy some issues with my notes below.

However, after my kids and hubby tasted it and liked it as is, I think I am going to stick to the recipe. So, thanks, blueapron!

My apologies for posting about something that I tried only for the first time. Read my notes below before you proceed to see if you would like to experiment some more. This one is time-consuming (like most Filipino delicacies are), and I don't think I will try to experiment again anytime soon.

Also, I have a video of these, but I really don't have the time to edit them and make into a video worthwhile of your viewing time, so please bear with the photos. The written instructions should be clear enough to guide you.

2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick; 1/4 lb)
1/4 cup + 1 to 2 tbsp water
250 gm muscovado sugar (I used 1 tbsp per dough ball, so roughly around 20 tbsp)
1 cup of sesame seeds (you will most probably have leftovers)

Soften butter or cut into small cubes. Mix with flour. Add 1/4 cup water and knead to form a dough. If you need to add more water to make it more cohesive, add 1 tbsp at a time and knead until you have a soft and pliable dough that is not sticky to touch. Let rest for about 10 minutes wrapped in plastic.

Divide into twenty pieces (I measure about 18-20 gm per dough ball). Roll to flatten using rolling pin. Measure sugar (1 tbsp if you want it sweet; use less if you don't) and compact that (by pushing the sugar against the spoon with your thumbs) before placing at the middle of the flattened dough (so that it does not crumble right away as soon as you fold the edges over the sugar). Gather edges together and pinch. Flatten a bit with your palm. Dunk in sesame seeds and press slightly for the seeds to adhere. Transfer to countertop and flatten carefully with the rolling pin. Keep covered in plastic until ready to cook.

Heat a nonstick pan on low. Lightly brown one side then flip. Some sugar may ooze out. Wipe the pan to remove excess sugar and sesame seeds before proceeding with the next batch. Cool completely on wire rack then place in ziploc bag.

Notes: Some of the commenters at blueapron's said the piaya filling was supposed to still be gooey even when cooled and not return to crystallized form. I tend to agree with that. Probably for experiments, you might want to try adding a little bit of water and flour or cornstarch or tapioca, just like in Ferna's website. The purpose for the water is to dissolve the flour/starch/tapioca while cooking, and act as colloidal glue for the caramelizing sugar, so that come cooling time, instead of crystallizing, the caramelized sugar will stay in the colloid mixture and not re-crystallize, hopefully resulting to the gooey consistency that stays like paste.

Update 12/17/2012:
Cherry made a comment below to share her version which avoids crystallization of the sugar. Here's what she had to say:
Hi Manang! This is my first time to comment on your blog..my first time to visit your blog was yesterday when i was searching for ensaimada and cinnamon rolls recipe. However when I came to this piaya recipe, i got interested enough to try this first. I however made some adjustments, especially with the filling as i noted your concern that there was crystallization. So here's my final recipe I'd like to share with you:
2 cups AP Flour
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup muscovado sugar or dark brown sugar which i used as I had no muscovado sugar available today
1 tsp honey mix to the sugar( to prevent crystallization, you can also use molasses to add more flavor)
Mix shortening and flour til crumbly (use hands to better mix it in) then add water and knead til soft. divide into 18 small balls,
Flatten a ball into thin circle (you can just use your hand to flatter)put in center small amount of sugar with the honey/molasses, cover with another flattened sheet, seal at edges somewhat like a pie, be careful to flatten to remove air pockets, cook over non stick skillet or pan til you get browned spots or surfaces, some sugar may also ooze out. 
I took some pics but was not able to upload..they look very much like the original piayas, only softer and crisper on the outside. Hope your readers try this! 
I will be trying out the ensaimada and cinnamon rolls for this christmas and will give you feedback soon! Thanks! 

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Tender and Moist Wheat Pan de sal

Wheat Pandesal
With dulce de leche and butter - yummy!
Denise, an fb friend, once asked me if I have a good recipe for wheat pandesal, and I made a suggestion using my pandelimon recipe with wheat flour replacing half of the bread flour. When she had a good outcome that her friends and family all enjoyed and since then made every week, I felt the need to try it myself, although I used only one cup of whole wheat. The result was not the typical dry choking-hazard wheat breads, but one that was moist and tender. As always, the "secret" ingredient to make it softer and moister was the mashed potatoes (or sweet potatoes, whichever you prefer).

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


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

Transfer the dough on a lightly greased and floured surface. Stretch and form into a log. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Slice every 1-1.5 inches intervals. Coat with breadcrumbs. Lay on sliced side on baking pan, 1 to 2 fingers apart. Let rise in warm oven for 30 minutes. Bake at 375 deg F for 10 minutes, rotate the pan, then bake for additional 2-3 minutes or until browned to your liking. Enjoy with butter, or your favorite "palaman" (I used dulce de leche and butter on the photo above) and cool the rest on wire rack for at least 30 minutes before storing in ziploc bag.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Rice Puto

Manang's Rice Puto
Rice Puto - not just puti

I would have said "Putong Puti" on the title, but because I used several flavorings to come up with bite-size puto to bring tomorrow to my SIL's for Easter celebration, these mini-puto have pastel colors,and will be the right way to Filipinize Easter, I would say!

I used rice flour (to save time), and added coconut milk instead of plain water just because I love the flavor imparted by it. I also added fresh pandan leaves to the boiling water for additional flavor.

My kids liked them, tasting each and seeing which flavor they liked best. Hubby was likewise delighted.

I also experimented with using additional tapioca starch (added 1 tsp to 1 tbsp to one of the 4 colors) to see whether it would help prevent the "eruption"; I also tried to lessen the heat as soon as I placed the bamboo steamer, so as not to make "gulat" and create that erupted look. Not that I don't like the erupted top; I was just wondering how some puto vendors manage not to have any on theirs. These seem effective, and tapioca subtly changes the consistency to make it a little bit chewier (almost rubber-like, but not tough, whereas pure rice would result to a more crumbly texture, especially if batter is not thin enough, or if rice did not soak long enough).

I will have to make special mention of MaMely of PinoyAmericanRecipes for the puto molds and the wonderful Pinoy flavorings she sent to me. Thanks, MaMely!

Update as of 2/4/2011: WonderWoman tried this recipe (after previously trying 2 other recipes that she did not particularly like) and I got the thumbs up from her! Thanks, WonderWoman!

1 package (16 oz or 1 lb) rice flour (regular, red writings on package)
1-1/2 cup water
1 can (14 oz or 13.5 oz) premium coconut milk (unsweetened, first pressing)
1-1/2 cup sugar
a dash or two of salt
1 tbsp baking powder
few drops of McCormick flavorings (langka, ube, pandan)

tapioca starch (1 tbsp for the whole batch, or 1 tsp for each after dividing)
pandan leaves for the boiling water

In a plastic container, blend rice flour with water very well. Cover and let rest in room temp overnight.

Next morning, add everything else except flavorings and mix very well until smooth. Batter will be very very thin. Do not be tempted to add any more flour.

Prepare water for steaming. Add pandan leaves if desired.

Divide batter into 4. Add a few drops of the flavorings to 3, leaving one white, so you end up with 4 different colors. You may add tapioca (1 tsp each) to each of these, or try one with tapioca and see if you like the result. If you don't, leave the rest alone.

Lay the puto molds on top of cloth lining as shown (I use the ones in the photo below; I bought it from Walmart, where the housekeeping/building stuff are). Pour the batter almost to the brim of the molds. When water is briskly boiling, steam the puto and time for 10 minutes for these bite-size puto (muffin size will probably take 15-20 minutes). If using metal pan, line the lid also with dry cloth to absorb moisture and prevent condensation. Do not steam the puto too long that the excess moisture gets absorbed by the cooked puto that might result to sogginess. In trying to figure out the right steaming time for your size of puto, try a few, steam for about 10 minutes, try it (or break in half to see the middle), before you proceed with the rest of the batter.

Once done, remove right away from the mold and cool on wire rack so excess moisture evaporates. These puto molds easily releases the puto; I just had to slip the tip of a toothpick at one side, the gently pull it out and drop onto the cooling rack. Store (what you will not eat right away) in airtight container when cooled completely.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Reader's Gallery #15

Thanks to Mercie for sharing a photo of the binangkal that she made.

Mercie was the one who requested that I make the binangkal, so I owe it to her to learn how to make this snack that is popoular in Cebu.

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