"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

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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Beef Sesame Ginger Stir-Fry

Beef Sesame Ginger Stir-Fry

Hubby: Hmmm...this is really good!  Did this recipe come from that White House Chef book?
Me: Yes. You like it? I thought you don't care much for soy sauce-marinated meats.
Hubby: Well, this is really good.  It melts in your mouth. I already like that guy. Will you serve this for our dinner on Thursday with Linda?
Me: Absolutely!

Well, that White House Chef we were talking about was Ariel de Guzman, originally a Filipino US Navy.

This was the first recipe I got from his book although I tweaked some because I used 2 pounds of beef rather than 1.5 pounds, and I added ginger. And it was a hit! I had all ingredients in my pantry (or refrigerator in the case of sesame seeds.

I stir-fried them in batches and then used the mini-wok that I mistakenly ordered (I imagined it
was larger, but I was surprised that it looked more like a bowl) to keep it warm (kept atop the warmer on my stove, covered with the lid). Isn't this cute?
stainless steel mini wok kept it warm
For the beef cut, I used two pounds of "cube steak." (Cube steak is a cut of beef, usually top round or top sirloin, tenderized by fierce pounding with a meat mallet, or use of an electric tenderizer. Many professional cooks insist that regular tenderizing mallets cause too much mashing to produce a proper cube steak, and insist on either using specialized cube steak machines, or manually applying a set of sharp pointed rods to pierce the meat in every direction. This is the most common cut of meat used for chicken fried steak.- from wikipedia_.) I cut the steaks into strips. The result reminded me so much of tapa, although with a touch of Korean/Chinese/Malaysian (whatever!) taste.
whatta super supper!!!
Well, when hubby specifically requests that a certain dish be served to our guests (we will also have my in-laws and another friend that afternoon), then he really likes it so much that he wants to show off my cooking skills. :)

Sesame ginger Beef Stir-Fry
Adapted from:

2 lbs cube steak, cut in strips

For marinade:

2 tsp white sugar
4 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1&1/2 tbsp sesame oil
2 thumb-size ginger, peeled and sliced

For cooking:

2-3 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp vegetable oil for each batch stir-fried (I was using a medium sized nonstick pan)
3 garlic cloves, cut thinly
1 thumb-size ginger, cut in strips


In a bowl, blend the marinade ingredients well. Toss the beef strips to coat. Cover and let sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

On medium heat, dry-roast the sesame seeds until lightly browned and aromatic. Place in a small bowl and set aside.

Increase the heat to high, add vegetable oil and stir-fry the garlic and ginger until lightly browned. Remove and set aside.

By small batches, stir-fry beef until glossy dark-brown in color (beef will turn light brown first then release it's juice and simmer; just continue stir-frying until all juice has evaporated).

In a container kept warm (in an oven or over the warming stovetop), place the cooked batches of beef.

Add more oil to the skillet or wok and stir-fry the next batch.

When all beef is cooked, stir in the fried ginger and garlic. Sprinkle top with sesame seeds.

Serve with rice or mashed potatoes and salad.

Update 4/27/2011:

When I served this for the intended gathering at home, it was a big hit amongst my in-laws and our visitor.

I took some leftover to work the next day, and our unit sec smelled the aroma and got intrigued. I let her taste one piece, and immediately she asked for the recipe. I brought the recipe on Easter Sunday, and told her about the tweaks I made, then she immediately re-typed the whole recipe, made several copies, and distributed them amongst our co-workers, swearing by how good it tasted (and she does not even like ginger, but never detected it in my recipe.).

So there, guaranteed to wow your American friends (there is no question that this will wow Asian friends)!

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Filipino Custard Cake (Leche Flan Cake) - No short cuts!

Filipino Custard Cake
(aka Leche Flan Cake)
Once upon a time, I craved for custard cake and I was then very very inexperienced with baking chiffon or sponge cakes. In my haste to give in to my cravings, I improvised using a cake mix I had in my pantry, and leche flan, and the result is here in this post.

As I have learned in the past years about baking more complicated types of cakes that involve whipping eggwhites, I finally had the gumption to bake custard cake, when one of my readers, jun m., commented on that post about it and offered his tip:
The cake used in custard cakes found here in the Philippines is simply Chiffon Cake with some minor changes in the original chiffon cake recipe you would usually find in recipe books/the internet. Instead of the usual 2 1/4 cups of sifted cake flour, use 2 1/2 cups. Omit the salt as well. You can also add a tablespoon of grated calamansi rind for flavor. Pour the custard mixture (over the cooled caramel) in the pan then pour the chiffon cake batter. The batter will float on top of the custard mixture! Bake it in a baine marie. jun m.
True, my Nanay told me that what she remembers from her long-ago baking lesson about making this custard cake was that the cake batter floats on the leche flan. She taught the recipe to our bakers back when we had a bakery in the Philippines, then forgot about it. As such, it used to be one of my favorite merienda item which was quite expensive than the usual ensaymada or pianono.

So with that comment left by jun m., once again the craving kicked in, and I searched for a basic lemon chiffon cake recipe without hard-to-find special ingredients, and used that recipe as a basis, with some changes in the ingredients. I had to say the the outcome after the first try was enough to make me stick to the recipe.

Of course for the leche flan part, I used my never-fail leche flan recipe (at least for me and my friends and relatives), which can be found here.

Right after baking, my sons and I tried the individual servings baked in ramekins. It was good.

I chilled the one baked in 13x9 inch pan before inverting, which to me was even better than the warm and freshly baked! Best on the third day even! So this is definitely one Pinoy cake favorite that we can prepare up to 3 days ahead of time. And I have to add that my American in-laws loved this Pinoy-style cake (they even preferred it over the usual cake with frosting).

Ingredients for chiffon cake:
5 eggs, separated while cold
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
½ cup sugar
2/3 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
4 tablespoon oil
6 tablespoon whole milk
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind (You may prepare your own, although I used a KAF brand here)

Instructions for the whole custard cake:
1. Caramelize white sugar in the pans (the amount of sugar is approximately about 1 cup to 1&1/2 cup for the 13x9.) UPDATE as of 11/6/11: I have found an easier, quicker and more convenient way of caramelizing sugar in the microwave. It takes less than 5 minutes. Place 1 cup sugar in pyrex glass, add enough water to wet all (about 2-3 tbsp maybe), then microwave for 5 minutes on high. As soon as you reach 3 minutes, keep your eyes on it, as it boils and turns to light amber to golden amber to dark amber. Stop at your desired color. Watch the video below to see how I do it. WARNING: Caramelizing sugar is VERY VERY HOT and might make your glass bowl EXPLODE. Make sure you are using microwavable bowls or cups that have no nicks.

Let cool and harden. Place the pan/s in bigger pan/s with cold water, such that water will reach about 1 inch up the sides of the prepared pan/s. (This is bain marie method, or steam bath.)
Tip: It is better to use more than required than discover you used very little. Why? If you use very little, that caramelized sugar dissolves somewhat after baking, which gives the syrup that drips when you invert. If you use too little, you create some sort of a vacuum that somehow sucks the leche flan as you invert the cake, then creates some wrinkle, or a rough appearance of the leche flan in case this actually reaches the pan at some spots where the caramel dissolves completely. If you use more than enough, those spots will not be there, there will still be caramel that is not dissolved and you will have enough syrup so that the cake will slide off smoothly upon inverting, leaving you with a smooth top, not wrinkly. And if you do have a good layer of hard caramel remaining, you can still use this pan for leche flan.
Tip:Aluminum pans are perfect for this purpose because you can cook the sugar directly in it.

2. Prepare the leche flan mixture in the blender and set aside.
The recipe/method for the flan can be found here. Basically, the ingredients are
4 whole eggs
1 can condensed milk (14-oz)
1 can evaporated milk (15-oz)
1 tsp vanilla plus few drops of McCormick lemon extract essence)
Tip: Do not pour this mixture right away into the caramelized pan. Prepare the chiffon cake batter first before you pour the leche flan mixture into the caramelized pan. Why? If you pour early, then proceed to prepare the cake batter, then that leche flan will start dissolving the caramel (remember that this caramel is still sugar). So do it when you are really ready to bake.)

3. Prepare the cake batter.
Separate the eggs while still cold (they separate easier when cold). Add the cream of tartar to the egg whites and let sit at room temperature (the eggwhites whip more beautifully when at room temp.)

Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a small bowl. Make a well at the center and add the liquid ingredients and lemon rind. Add 1/4 cup sugar at the sides with the flour. Start beating with a hand mixer from the center going outward so that the dry ingredients are slowly incorporated. Beat until well blended.

Beat the egg whites using a clean and dry beater until it foams, then gradually add 1/4 cup sugar and continue beating until it forms soft peaks (I read somewhere that overbeating might cause the cake to be brittle. I want my cake to be more satiny soft and not have the dry feel. The main reason for this beating of egg white is to enable incorporation of air into the cake to make it light and airy, of course, which is a characteristic of any chiffon or sponge cakes.

Gently fold the egg whites to the batter using a spatula, make sure that you mix very gently. I found a special kind of whisk to do this in less time, distributing the bubbles evenly.

Pour the leche flan into the prepared pans. (In subsequent batches I made, I used the exact 1 recipe of leche flan with 1 recipe of the chiffon cake in a 13x9 pan, which gave me the ratio of leche flan to cake that I like...just the right amount.) Pour cake batter on top of the leche flan mixture. Because the cake batter has a lot of air incorporated in it due to the whipped egg whites, it floats. Bake these at 325 °F for 20 to 25 minutes for the individual ramekins, and about 45-50 minutes for the 13x9 (ovens have varying heat, so if it is your first time to bake a certain recipe, keep watching during the last few minutes of baking.

Checking for doneness can be done with toothpick (If toothpick comes out clean, it is done.). My preferred method is tapping with finger (I use the spring-back action and the hollow sound as my gauge.) This is because I usually do not remember to get more toothpicks once we use them up. :)
My American family loves anything custardy when freshly baked. I prefer them chilled because somehow, it smells more eggy when still warm.

I have been working on the video above for the past month...dumudugo ilong ko trying hard to prepare video, but here I am plugging away because there are those requesting videos instead of just slideshow of photos. I hope my efforts are appreciated. Nakakasama ng loob pag me nag-iiwan ng comment sa videos ko that are not only unappreciative, but very demeaning. If you don't like my videos, which are mainly prepared to clarify my instructions in this foodblog, and not to entertain or to stand alone, just do not make any comments on them, lalo na kung ikaw mismo ay walang kontribusyon na maitutulong sa madlang Pilipino. Hindi naman po ako professional videographer nor a chef nor a culinary expert. Just sharing what I am learning as I adapt in my American kitchen and try to keep the Filipino traditions alive and to provide solutions to my cravings. Such comments are so discouraging to bloggers like me whose main reason to blog is to share FREE KNOWLEDGE gathered from our own efforts of research to spare others from going through the hardships of what we went through. I (and other food bloggers) could have chosen to keep my recipes within my family to be passed on from generation to generation, but I am not that selfish.

Pasensya na po at naghinga pa ako ng sama ng loob dito...

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Looking at Kusina Ni Manang from a Different View

Hello to my friends,
Check out a different way to view my kusina that gives you this look:

You can see all the preview photos of every post I have made, hover your mouse in one photo that gets you interested, then click on that to see the actual post.

Cool, huh?

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