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!