"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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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Yogurt Lemon Salad Dressing

Yogurt Marinade and Yogurt-Lemon Dressing
It all started when I began eating more real foods and less junk (processed "foods"). Yogurt is one of those probiotic-rich foods that I added in my homemade arsenals. I buy the plain nonfat or 1.5% fat yogurt (Stonyfield) from time to time as my culture starter, then I make several batches using whole raw milk (which I get for free).  It's so easy to make when you have a dehydrator that doubles as low-heat oven.  In my search to eliminate store-bought dressings, and in wanting to use up the sour plain yogurt (homemade, which I could not eat by itself until I realized it tasted like mild vinegar), a light bulb went off in my head and I searched for a recipe for a dressing that uses yogurt.

This one is my go-to dressing now. I got it from the internet (allrecipes, I believe).  And while I have been using this for months on my salads, my son#1 only tried it last Saturday when I brought it (along with other store-bought dressings) to my BIL's birthday (we were instructed to bring our own because they only had blue cheese).  My son#1 got hooked and requested that I get more salads so he could have it again.  And so we did last night, with him making the dressing because we only had a small amount of the remaining batch.

I do make my yogurt now Greek-style (whey drained from it) so our dressing is thicker, and I prefer the use of expeller-pressed coconut oil (EPCO) instead of olive oil (I still have EVOO in my kitchen), as it is yummy yet does not have a coconut-y taste.

This dressing was adapted from epicurious. I followed everything except I added more herbs from my garden and I used EVOO instead of avocado or canola oil. I am not ever going to use con-ola oil.

salmon marinated in yogurt; yogurt dressing on salad
My plate of salad greens
with yogurt dressing
and yogurt-marinated
  • 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 tsp basil (optional)
  • 1 tsp chives, snipped (optional)
  • 1/4 cup EVOO, or VCO or EPCO
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • Fine sea salt to taste
This is so wonderful on salads!
By this time, I have made countless batches of this dressing. Perfect replacement for the starch-laden vinegary (not good in fighting Candida) and sugary dressings available in the supermarkets, which uses the most unhealthy oils from highly processed soybean or canola.

I would like to thank my friend, Cecilia, for her birthday gift for me last year, the Microplane Herb Mill, which I use a lot for this purpose.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Canning: Pizza Sauce

Homemade Pizza Sauce and Homemade Mozzarella
I have several friends who work in the Backyard Farms, a greenhouse based in Madison, ME that produces fresh tomatoes year-round. Two of them gave me tomatoes, totaling 2&1/2 boxes. I used some fresh, and before they turned bad, I thought of canning them as pizza sauce (it used to be that, when I made pizza at home, I would buy a jar of pizza sauce, which we often found inferior).  We also bought shredded mozzarella and other toppings.

Since I have been making mozzarella cheese with fresh cow's milk, I thought I should also make our own pizza sauce. I picked a recipe that had rave reviews from food.com. It was the first time when we had our supper last night that we used it for homemade pizza.  It received high praises from my greatest critic (my husband), saying that it was even better than our favorite store-bought pizza (freshly baked pizza from Al's Pizza).  That is, after I added 1/4 tsp to the pint of pizza sauce after I had hubby taste it before spreading onto the pizza dough. He even reminded me that I should keep the recipe.

Almost all of the ingredients in the recipe can be grown or were grown in my garden (with lemon juice as my exception...unless I become successful in growing Meyer's lemon, at least; I also bought the celery seeds, but will try growing celery this year).  As for the sugar, I replaced it with honey, which came from my SIL who does beekeeping.

So, for purposes of "keeping the recipe," I am posting it here the way I made it (no photos of the early stages of making it).


25-28 tomatoes
2 large onions, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 T olive oil
2 T lemon juice
1 tsp pepper
1 T honey
2 T parsley
1 T oregano
1 T basil
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp celery seeds
1 T salt
1/2 tsp summer savory


Cut the tomatoes in half and place in large roasting pans.  Add the onions and garlic cloves.  Drizzle the olive oil on top.  Roast at 425ºF for about 30 minutes or until the veggies are browned real good and garlic is fragrant.

Drain the tomato juice off.

Use a food mill to remove the seeds and skins. Mine is a Kitchen Aid fruit and vegetable strainer attachment.

Place in a crockpot large enough to contain the tomato sauce and add all the other ingredients. Cook on high uncovered until the desired consistency is achieved (took about the whole day for me). Stir occasionally. (Meanwhile, I was doing other chores).

Make it smoother by using either a stick blender (also called immersion blender) like I had, or transferring to a blender and blenderizing until smooth.

Heat up some more until you are sure you want the consistency. Prepare your lids and jars (I like using pints) by sterilizing them (I use a steam canner) for at least 10 minutes at 180ºF steam, then ladle the sauce into the jars, wipe the rips, place the lids and bands, then process in either a water bath canner or the steam canner for 25 minutes.

Almost like making smoothies using the stick blender

Ladling the pizza sauce onto the homemade pizza dough
The finished homemade pizza that got rave reviews from my family

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Chicken Gumbo

Chicken Gumbo
Nine years of marriage, and I only discovered that my husband would LOVE chicken gumbo!

Well, it was my first time cooking it. We had leftover chicken meat from roast chicken that we had over the weekend. And I guess all of us were getting tired of the usual chicken-and-gravy-on-toast or chicken sandwich that we have had in the past to use up leftover roast chicken meat.

I was browsing a KAF catalog when I saw the photo of "Gumbo Biscuit Bake" and I thought I could make gumbo without the biscuit (to eliminate wheat).  When I still did not think much about consuming processed food, my fave soup to bring to work was Campbell's Chicken Gumbo soup. Now that we have been trying to stay away from processed foods (for health reasons), seeing the recipe for this one inspired me to make my own.

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