Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Turbo Chicken v. 2

Sorry, I don't have a picture but you just have to trust me on this one. To all the Pinoys our there who have a turbo and have tried this recipe of mine, here's a variation: instead of using salt and pepper, use half to 3/4 of a packet of sinigang mix and rub it all over the chicken. Let this sit for a couple of hours (or overnight) and then follow the recipe above for cooking instructions. It sounds weird but boy, was it ever so malinamnam!

Saturday, October 10, 2009


This was another quick, throw-it-together-in-15-minutes dinner that came out very well! I was able to make two loaf pans of meatloaf, one of which we had for dinner and the other one the boys took for lunch the next day. This is the first meatloaf I've ever made so I haven't been to tweak the recipe and explore the possibilities yet. I have to say though that for the amount of effort I put into this, the returns were certainly much greater :-)

750 g. lean ground beef
750 g. lean ground pork
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
2 eggs
1/4 cup oyster sauce
1/4 cup bottled BBQ sauce
2 tbsp. onion soup mix (this is probably optional)
salt and pepper to taste
6-8 strips of bacon, cut in half

1. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except the bacon.
2. Mix well. I used my electric mixer so as it was doing its job, I prepared the potatoes that I roasted along with the meatloaf.
3. Line 2 loaf pans with bacon, overlapping the strips a tiny bit.
4. Divide the meat mixture into 2 and place in the pans. Pack firmly.
5. Bake in a 350 oven for 40-45 minutes.
6. Get a sheet pan, remove the loaf pans from the oven, and invert the loaves onto the sheet pan.
7. Put the sheet pan in the over and bake about 15 minutes more until the bacon browns and crisps us a bit.

A few can nuke a tiny, tiny bit of the meatloaf in the microwave for 10 seconds or so. By doing this, you can taste the product and adjust the seasoning before baking the entire thing.

Next time, I think I'm going to sneak in some veggies (like chopped carrots). I'm thinking some sauteed chopped onions will improve the recipe too.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Potato Salad

It's been so long since I've cooked. Well, I've been cooking...but only functional cooking. What's functional cooking? That means cooking just because you HAVE to and not because you WANT to. When I WANT to cook something, I call that recreational cooking. Hehe!

I'm making a potato salad today since S&A are coming over and we're having a BBQ to say good-bye to summer :-(

So here's my recipe for potato salad:

1. Boil about 2 lbs. of potatoes, skin on, until soft but not mushy.
2. Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, mix together:

1 heaping cup mayonnaise
3 heaping tsp. whole grain mustard
1 tsp. dijon mustard
2 tbsp. apple cider vinger
1/2 pack cooked minced bacon (or a whole pack if you want)
4 stalks of chopped green onions
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
freshly cracked black pepper
about 2 tsp. salt and 3 tsp. sugar

Here's how mine looked at this point...

By now, your potatoes are probably done so drain them well and let them dry completely. Cut them into manageable sized chunks and put them into your dressing mixture while they are still warm. Gently toss until the potatoes are evenly coated. Stick in the fridge to cool.

A few notes: make sure you like the way your dressing tastes before you put the potatoes in. Adjust the salt/pepper/sugar accordingly because once the potatoes are in, they're in. Can't adjust the seasoning anymore unless you want your potato salad to turn into mush. Also, peeling the potatoes is optional. I happen to LOVE potato skins. I like the textural contrast it gives. Just make sure you scrub the potatoes well before cooking.

Final product:

Friday, August 14, 2009

Grilled bananas

I had planned a great meal for the boys tonight: grilled caesar salad, wagyu burgers, and grilled asparagus. I bought all the stuff and came home with bags of groceries only to realize that I had not planned for dessert!!! And what's a Friday night meal without dessert, right?

So I looked around, scoped my cupboard and saw bananas, chocolate chips, peanut butter chips and a half-finished container of vanilla ice cream. Since we were grilling the rest of the meal, I thought...why not grill dessert too?

So what started out as this...

...ended up like this...

The hot sweet banana, with the creamy melted chocolate, accented by salty highs from the peanut butter chips, all intermingling with the cold creamy smoothness of vanilla ice cream made for a dish that was a sum greater than its parts.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


I've been on a posting spree today. I'm just scared that I'm going to lose these scraps of paper stuck to my fridge door with my tried-and-true recipes! So here's my version of tapa. Nope, not tapas, which has become so popular these days! I mean beef tapa, the Filipino breakfast dish of marinated beef, often served with garlic rice (sinangag) and eggs (itlog). The meal therefore is called TAPSILOG from TAPa, SInangag and itLOG.

There are endless variations to the SILOG:
*Tosilog - with Tocino (sweet marinated pork)
*Longsilog - with Longganisa (Filipino breakfast sausages, of which there are as many styles are there are provinces in the Philippines)
*Bangsilog - with Bangus, or milkfish (our national fish)
*Adsilog - with Adobo
*Cornsilog - with corned beef
*Spamsilog - with Spam, obviously
*Tusilog - with Tuyo, dried salted fish
*Tinsilog - with smoked fish

Anyways, you get the pictures. So on to the recipe...

2 lbs of sliced lean beef (1/8 to 1/4 inch thick works best)
1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper (freshly cracked makes a big difference here)
1 whole head of garlic, peeled and crushed
2 tbsp. salt

1. In a large ziplock bag, put all the marinade ingreadients and swish around until incorporated.
2. Add beef and swish around again to make sure each piece of meat has been blessed by the vinegary goodness.
3. Keep in the fridge for about 24 hours. After this you can cook it, or store it in the freezer for a rainy day (both literally and figuratively...I just love breakfast food when it's raining outside)

To cook, place entire contents of bag in a non-stick pan with about 1/4 cup of oil. Turn heat up to medium-high and let marinade evaporate. During this time, I often take the opportunity to cut the meat into smaller, more manageable pieces (about 1x2 inches). I use tongs and kitchen shears and do this right on top of the pan. As the marinade evaporates, lower heat to medium and let the meat fry in the oil, keeping the meat moving so as not to have burnt spots. The sugar in the marinade will then become sort of like a glaze and will become sticky and shiny. Serve the tapa with eggs, rice and vinegar. Sliced fresh tomatoes with some scallions and fish sauce on the side doesn't hurt either.

My go-to cake recipe

This is my favorite cake recipe. It's so simple and so reliable. It can be frosted, eaten on its own, made into cupcakes, and made into birthday cakes. In the picture above, I baked it in a 9x13 pan, cut in in half, put one half on top of the other half to make a layer cake, I frosted it with some sweetened whipped cream and put a layer of macerated strawberries between the two layers.

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter, softened and cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
3 eggs

1. In the bowl of your mixer, mix the first four ingredients on low just until well mixed.
2. Add the butter and mix on low for about a minute.
3. Add 1/2 of milk and the vanilla extract and mix for another minute.
4. Add eggs and the rest of the milk and mix on low-medium for 2 minutes.
5. Pour batter into pan, tap on counter to minimize bubbles and bake in a 350 oven.

one 9x13 pan - 35-40 minutes
24 cupcakes - 20-25 minutes
two 8 inch round pans - 35-40 minutes

Salmon bulgogi

I based this dish on a recipe I found in Bon Appetit. DH is not a big fan of salmon, but I was hoping that by giving it an Asian twist, he would warm up to this fish which is as ubiquitous here in Toronto as tilapia is in Manila!

4 pcs. skinless salmon fillet
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 tsp. grated ginger
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tbsp. Chinese rice wine
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. sesame oil
1/4 tsp. chili garlic sauce

1. Mix all ingredients (except for the salmon, of course!) in a small food processor to make a marinade.
2. Marinate salmon for about 5-10 minutes.
3. Remove salmon from marinade and place in a baking dish.
4. Bake in 500 oven for about 5-7 minutes then switch oven to broil and broil for about 3-5 minutes.
5. Meanwhile reduce the marinade until it's thick and syrupy. This will be your glaze.
6. When the salmon is done, place on a plate and pour about a tablespoon of glaze.
7. Serve with whatever sides your heart desires. I did Parisienne potatoes and steamed Chinese broccoli.

All in all, this dinner was a success! DH said he enjoyed it much more than he thought he would. The two boys loved it. This is definitely a make-again dish. Healthy, yummy, and above all easy-peasy!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Roasted Branzino

Roasted branzino with salsa verde and fried capers served with garlic broccolini and roasted heirloom tomatoes with balsamic reduction:

It seems like branzino, or Mediterranean seabass/European seabass, is the new "it" fish. Every restaurant I go to seems to have some version of this fish roasted, salt-crusted, grilled, etc, etc. So tonight, instead of paying $30 for one dish, I went to my local fish-monger, bought 3 pieces of branzino ( each about 1.25 lbs) and fed 3 people for the price of one restaurant dish :-)

BRANZINO (we had 3, one for me, one for DH and one for son #2...son #1 is away)
1. Have your fish-monger scale, gut and clean the fish. Mine even removed the backbone. I love my fish-monger...
2. Pat fish dry and season generously with salt and pepper.
3. Stuff the fish with 2 slices of lemon, 2-3 sprigs of parsley, and 2-3 sprigs of thyme.
4. Lay the fish on a parchment-lined baking sheet and pour about 2 tbsp. of olive oil on each fish.
5. Bake the fish in a 450 oven for 8 minutes.
6. Turn the oven to broil and cook another 8 minutes more until the skin is blistered.

1. In a food processor, place 1 cup parsley, 1/4 cup olive oil, zest of one lemon, juice of 1/2 lemon, and 1 tsp. salt.
2 Pulse until smooth.

1. Take 2-3 heaping teaspoons of capers from the jar.
2. Squeeze as much moisture out with paper towels.
3. Pan fry in a bit of oil until slightly brown.
4. Drain well.

1. Cut tomatoes in half.
2. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Drizzle with olive oil.
4. When you put the oven to broil (as you cook the fish), put the tomatoes in as well. The tomatoes will be done when the fish is done.
5. Meanwhile, reduce about 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar until syrupy. Pour over tomatoes before serving.

1. Saute 2 tsp. of garlic in oil.
2. Add broccolini.
3. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Cook until wilted.

This dish was excellent! The fish was extremely fresh...the mild, sweet flesh redolent with the aroma of herbs and citrus. Yum!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

My go-to brownie recipe

Mama, as requested :-)

2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup baking cocoa
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
2 tbsp. corn syrup
1 tsp. vanilla

1. Mix dry ingredients together.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk oil, eggs, corn syrup, and vanilla together.
3. Add to dry ingredients.
4. At this point, you can add up to 1 cup of whatever: nuts, chocolate chips, marshmallows, peanut butter chips, m&m's, etc, etc.
5. Bake in a 13 x 9 pan at 350 for about 25 to 30 minutes.

Lost thoughts

I found this entry in one of my long un-touched social networking sites. I wrote it a year ago and still the feelings ring true...


Here I am, back from a four-week trip back home. And I've been vacillating between the feeling of relief of being home, in my house, my bed, away from Manila heat and traffic, and the feeling that I've somehow left a piece of myself behind.

Being away for years and years makes one forget how one is truly connected to his or her family. When we first came here, it was exciting, and new, and full of promise. Missing the family I had left behind was the last thing on my mind. The preoccupation with the endless possibilities before me made the sacrifice seem inconsequential. But now, those possibilities have become realities, and although they are good realities, the fact still remains...the rest of my family is half a world away.

For the past four years, missing them has become a constant reality, a steady undercurrent that stays in the background of every little thing. You get used to the feeling. And after a while, you don't even notice that it's there. But going home and going through the separation once again brings those feelings to the surface and makes the longing so acute.

And so I sit here torn. I love my life here. The opportunities, the peace, the conveniences, the uncomplicatedness of it all. But I can't shake the feeling that something, a huge chunk of something is missing.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Creme Brulee

I am such a custard girl. Make me choose between any custard-based dessert or chocolate and it will be the custard one every time. Pie or custard? Custard. Cake or custard? Custard. Fruit or custard? Custard. Anyway, you get my point. From leche flan, to creme caramel, to creme anglais, to brazo de mercedes, to canonigo, to portuguese egg tarts, to creme brulee, I love them all. Especially creme brulee. There is something about the purity of eggs, cream and vanilla...smooth and velvety against the tongue, accented by the occasional crunch of the caramelized sugar. Heaven.

I don't know why I never attempted to make this dessert. I always thought that it would be hard. I don't know why. I was really surprised at how simple it was! Mix the cream, eggs, sugar and vanilla. Bake in ramekins in a water bath. Top with sugar. Caramelize the sugar. That's it!

I used Mark Bittman's recipe from his book How to Cook Everything. His recipe calls for:

6 egg yolks
1 vanilla bean or 1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups cream
1 cup sugar

1. Heat the cream just to the brink of steaming. If using the bean, let the split bean steep in the hot cream for about 10 minutes. I used extract so I skipped the steeping step.
2. In a separate bowl, mix the yolks and sugar until the sugar is dissolved.
3. Gradually pour in the hot cream and mix well. Add the vanilla extract at this point if you're using extract.
4. Pout the custard mixture into ramekins. I think that wide, shallow ramekins work best since there's a larger surface area:volume ratio, which means more crunchy sugar topping. Yum!
5. Bake the creme brulee in a water bath in a 300 decree oven for about 30 minutes until set.
6. Cool in fridge.
7. Just before serving, sprinkle top with sugar and caramelize under the broiler or with a kitchen torch (which I hadn't bought then and just procured today).

I made 2 batches to bring to our Christmas dinner with S&A (which is why I used disposable ramekins). To one batch, I added 1/2 cup of Bailey's. It was good but I prefer the plain one. This will definitely make many more appearances on our table!


I overcame one of my culinary fears...the macaron. This French confection has been taunting me for quite a while now. And I've always been scared to try it. I've read other people's blogs and have heard the horror stories and the tales of utmost failure. I was petrified.

But, the holidays gave me the perfect opportunity. I used the egg yolks to make creme brulees (more on this in another post) and I had the egg whites sitting on the counter. I had almonds. I had icing sugar. And most of all, I had time. Precious time. Time to finally take on this challenge.

1 1/4 cups icing sugar
1 cup finely ground almonds
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsps egg whites, let sit at room temperature overnight
pinch of salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar

* Before you start, prepare your pans. Take a sheet of parchment and draw circles about 2 inches in diameter, spaced about an inch or so apart. Turn the parchment paper over and set it on your baking sheet. You will need about 3 baking trays.

1. With a food processor, pulse the ground almonds and icing sugar together. Sift to make sure there are no lumps. Set aside.
2. Using a mixer, whip the egg whites with the salt until frothy. Gradually add the granulated sugar until the egg whites form stiff peaks.
3. Gently fold in the icing sugar/almond mixture in 4 batches.
4. Mix gently until the batter "flows like magma." Apparently, this step could make or break your macarons. It has to be magma-like. Because we've all mixed magma before and we all know how magma flows when you mix it with a wooden spoon. Whatever.
5. Put mixture into a piping bag with a plain, large round tip.
6. Pipe the mixture onto your prepared pans, using the circles as your guide.
7. Let sit for 1-2 hours at room temperature until a skin forms or until the batter loses a bit of its shine. This will form a tougher shell which will prevent the macarons from breaking when you handle them later.

As you can see, I made ones that were about two inches in diameter and the excess batter I piped into small bite sized dots. Cute, eh?

Here's a close up. See how they're not very shiny anymore?

Anyway, on to the baking...

Bake the macarons in 325 oven. About two minutes into the baking, open the oven door and keep it ajar using a wooden spoon. Bake the macarons for about 10-11 minutes. Let cool.

Now I didn't have time to make the filling so I used Nutella instead. That's why there's a bottle of Nutella behind the macarons in the first picture. I also had some dulce de leche, so I filled some of the macarons with that too.

All in all, I thought the macarons were pretty good! Not perfect, but they exceeded all my expectations!