Friday, December 27, 2013

Lechon Congee

Yup.  Still on Christmas food... specifically, leftovers...

But still delicious!  Really.

Here's one in defiance of lechon paksiw!  Lechon lugaw!  from leftover lechon and leftover rice...

Ok, the problem here is that this is a dish without a recipe...  I did not measure anything and just winged it... like this -

a big bowl of mixed lechon pata and laman (pata is the leg part and laman is meaty parts)
about a third of the rice cooker "bowl" of leftover rice
about twice as much water or chicken stock as the rice (or more if you like a soupier lugaw)
thin slices of ginger
sliced onions
minced garlic

Saute the ginger, onion and garlic.  Throw in the lechon.  Add the water or chicken stock.  Lastly add the rice.  Then stir, stir, stir.  Cook on low-medium heat until thick and creamy.  For this particular dish, we wanted a soupy congee so I added more water.  Season with salt and pepper (or patis/fish sauce).

It was perfect for breakfast this chilly morning!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Fruit Salad, My Way...

Christmas Eve is always celebrated with Noche Buena, or midnight feast.  Our usual spread often includes lechon, noodles (spaghetti or Chinese noodles), ham, queso de bola, arroz caldo, barbecue, fruit salad, and hot chocolate.

This year we had the usual lechon, aligue rice (in lieu of arroz caldo) and fruit salad... but while the usual Filipino-style fruit salad is made with canned fruits, fresh buko (coconut), cream and condensed milk, I always skip the condensed milk and buko.  Then I add fresh apple chunks (simply because apples are traditionally a part of the Christmas season!)  This year, I added something else - strawberries to the cream!

The recipe -

1 large can Del Monte fruit cocktail (the one with pears and peaches)
1 large can tropical fruit cocktail (with papaya chunks)
1 small bottle green kaong
1 small bottle nata de coco
1 large Fuji apple, skin peeled and sliced into chunks
2 to 3 tetra packs of all purpose cream, well chilled
canned strawberries (about 10 pieces or so)

Drain the fruit cocktail, kaong and nata de coco at least overnight, in the refrigerator.

Drain (separately) the strawberries, mash lightly.  Whip the cream a few seconds (only) and add the strawberries.

Toss drained fruits, kaong, nata de coco and apple chunks.  Add the strawberry cream and toss well to coat.

Chill thoroughly before enjoying.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Upside-Down Cake, Apple

There's always an abundance of apples when it's Christmas.  And, while I am ready to try my mom's apple pie again, I'm waiting for a more leisurely time to do so... definitely after the "baking storm", which means not until next week, at least!

But I am okay with trying out something else with the apples... like an apple upside-down cake... or 2 small ones...

one for us and one for my mom...

As a child, apples were a great favorite.  But in the years that passed, apples became less and less of a favorite, except perhaps for my mom's apple pie, which only made an appearance once a year... yes, at Christmas time.

This cake, however, is sooooo delicious that it's got me eating apples again.  And I've had three slices already! 

I used to have a favorite recipe for upside down cake, a versatile one for almost any fresh fruit but I couldn't find it so I went looking for another one...  out of all the cookbooks I had, I chose a recipe from this book (image courtesy of Google images)...

The recipe is really for Pineapple Upside-Down Cake but I thought I could use apples instead of the pineapple.

Basically I followed the recipe, except...

1.  I used apples, of course!
2.  I used 2 smaller pans instead of 1 big pan
2.  I used all the schmear in the 2 smaller pans (it's really delicious, but I might have over-done it, seriously...).
3.  I sprinkled apple pie spice over the "schmear" before putting in apple slices.

By the way, I used Fuji apples... and they were still crunchy!

The recipe (and hence, the cake) was absolutely spectacular!  A tad bit sweet for me but otherwise, super yummy!!!  So from now on, this is my go-to upside down cake recipe!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Sate Chami

To discover the spicy aroma of sate (satay?) at my age is quite late indeed!  I always thought it was just a spicy condiment (and I was not fond of spicy food) but I was wrong.  It has a depth of flavor that enhances so well, and I only regret that I never tried it before!  Hubby, on the other hand, has been enjoying sate for the longest time and has been asking me to try it (and cook with it!)

Interestingly enough, it was when I gave in and make him one of his favorite restaurant dishes (ordered from our favorite Chinese restaurant always) that I finally discovered the wonder of sate barbecue sauce!

Presenting... Sate Chami (Stir Fried Satay Noodles)

The secret to the dish is a bottle sate sauce (image courtesy of Google Images) -

and the recipe is not as difficult as I thought... it's basically like the soupy lomi recipe but without the soup and with a lot of sate barbecue sauce!

500 grams thick egg noodles, parboiled and drained

8 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1 piece (100g approx) liempo, sliced into thin strips
100 grams shrimps, shelled (keep the heads)
4 pieces squid balls, sliced thinly
4 pieces fresh shitake mushroom, julienned
1 medium carrot, julienned
1 stalk celery, sliced diagonally
1 to 2 pieces cooked kikiam, sliced
3 to 4 cups reserved chicken stock
Baguio pechay leaves

salt and pepper, to taste
shao xing wine (rice wine)
soy sauce

For the garnish:
1 to 2 stalks leeks, sliced diagonally
wansoy leaves
dash sesame oil

Saute the garlic and onion.  Stir fry liempo, shrimps, carrots, squid balls, mushrooms, celery and kikiam.  Add chicken stock.  When the dish boils, season to taste with salt, pepper, rice wine and soy sauce.  Then put in the noodles.  Add the pechay leaves last.  Cook until almost dry then add half the bottle of sate sauce (yes, half the whole bottle!).  Toss and mix well...

Then enjoy!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Healthy Smoothies!

Hubby is always requesting healthier foods... breakfast specifically.  I'm used to a heavy breakfast of rice, egg and some form of meat (usually processed... not good, I know!  I know!) but hubby is just fine with yogurt or granola or oatmeal...

We have frozen strawberries and frozen blueberries that my brother got for me just last week.  And hubby just loves bananas (we froze some bananas just for this), so for breakfast yesterday morning, this is what he had...

The recipe is really simple... here are the main ingredients - 6 big pieces of frozen strawberries, a handful of frozen blueberries (about 1/4 cup more or less), a couple of frozen bananas, 1/2 cup low fat yogurt and 1/2 cup low fat milk.

Give everything a whirl in the blender and breakfast is served!  No sweetener required, since the bananas are sweet enough.

Today, he's having more of the same, sort of...  There's still strawberries, bananas and blueberries, but this time dried cranberries, cherries and golden raisins were thrown in to the mix.

The smoothie was definitely sweeter, due to the raisins.  But the mix made it more complex too.  Either way, it's good!

I've done this using all milk and it still turned out thick and creamy.  Maybe next time I will try it using all yogurt.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Red Braised Chicken

It started out with me looking for a chicken recipe... because I had a pack of skinless chicken thighs that I had to cook (it had been overstaying in the freezer already!)

But I really didn't have time to look for a recipe so I decided to "re-make" a pork recipe, specifically the Red Braised Pork.

But I added bamboo shoots and mushrooms.

Yummmyyy!!!  It was a great way to cook the chicken!  And it was ready in about 40 minutes, too.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Chicken and Mushroom Pot Pie

I was stuck at home.  And I was bored.  So I started daydreaming.  And remembered the delicious chicken and mushroom (hand) pie I used to eat.  Then I yearned.

So I cooked.

And it was delicious!

Next time, I want to make individual hand (or mini) pies.

I basically followed the recipe in this book (image courtesy of Google images):

Of course I made some changes.

Instead of leeks, I used a large onion.  Instead of fresh mushrooms, I used canned button and straw mushrooms (both sliced).  I also skipped the red peppers, peas and/or carrots (and increased the chicken to about 3 cups).  I also used one of my mom's pie crust recipes, instead of the pastry topper in the recipe, although to be perfectly honest, the recipe is very similar.  (I also forgot the make vents (slits) in the crust, but it still turned out ok.)

I really want to make hand pies or mini pies next time...

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Lechon Mami

Mami is a noodle soup.  The most common and popular is chicken.  Chicken Mami is considered as a comfort food.  It's one of mine, too, especially when I feel down (literally or figuratively).

And as I am still NOT feeling up to par, I am craving some major comfort!

I already had chicken sopas the other day, so while I want mami this time, I'd rather have a different flavor other than chicken...

Hence, lechon.

I had made lechon lomi before but I definitely did not want to do that much work!  I wanted a simple noodle soup with lechon as its flavoring meat.  So I followed the cooking procedure for chicken mami, except that I substituted lechon meat for the chicken meat!

And here's my comforting bowl of lechon lomi...

Here's how I made it -

1. Boil 250 grams of lechon - parts with little meat and a lot of bones - in about 6 cups of water, with an onion.  Simmer at least 45 minutes.  Strain the broth.

2. Meanwhile, chop up about 300 to 400 grams of lechon meat; set aside.  Slice an onion, mince 3 to 4 cloves of garlic, parboil some pechay leaves; set aside.

3. Rinse and boil 500 grams of thin egg noodles; drain and set aside.

4. Saute the onions and garlic.  Add the chopped lechon meat and the broth.  Season with salt.

5. Let boil.  Meanwhile arrange some noodles in a bowl and add some pechay leaves on the side.  Ladle soup and lechon meat over the noodles and pechay.

5. Garnish with spring onions and crushed chicharon, if desired.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Chicken Sopas

Everyone in the household had been feeling under the weather, some worse than others.  I was the last to fall... today...  I woke up with a headache, aching bones, stuffy nose and sore throat!

When I'm feeling sick, I don't feel like eating anything except... soup.  My favorite?  Chicken Sopas! 

Chicken Sopas is basically chicken soup with macaroni pasta and milk.  There's actually a lot of versions of it but here is mine...

1 whole chicken breast, with bones
about 4 to 5 cups water
1 small onion
thin slices of ginger

about 2 cups uncooked pasta (usually macaroni but I like the twist pasta)

1 medium sweet onion (the white one), sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium tomatoes, diced
half a yellow bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
half a red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
1 small carrot, sliced into thin strips
about 12 stalks small asparagus, discard the tough ends
celery leaves
3/4 to 1 cup fresh milk
salt and pepper, to taste

Boil chicken breast in the water with the onion and ginger.  When done, strain the broth and shred the chicken.

Cook the pasta until halfway done (do not cook until done).  Rinse, drain and set aside.  (Note here - the amount of pasta depends on your preference.  More soupy - use less pasta.)

Saute onion and garlic.  Add tomatoes, bell peppers and shredded chicken.  Add the carrots and asparagus.  When halfway done, add in the broth and celery leaves.  Let boil, then add the half-cooked pasta.  Season to taste with salt and pepper (I like to add Italian seasoning).  When the mixture boils (and pasta is cooked), add the milk and stir constantly until soup re-boils.

Serve hot.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Lime Curd

Ina Garten is one of my most favorite cookbook authors (and indeed, chefs).  So when I was looking for a recipe for lime curd, I looked in her cookbook, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook.  I found a recipe for Lime Curd Tart.  And I decided to follow the recipe for the lime curd, but to make only half the recipe because I wanted the lime curd as a filling for a Lime Margarita Chiffon Cake and needed just a cup or so.

Of course the crucial ingredient is the lime, locally known as dayap.  Dayap, according to internet sources, is Citrus Aurantifolia.  Compared to the Persian lime, the dayap (or key lime) is smaller and more tart (more flavorful), and has a thinner rind.  The dayap turns yellow when ripe.  Dayap is a popular ingredient in local cuisine, generally used as a souring agent, much like the calamansi.  Or as a flavor enhancer in sweet concoctions like the leche flan, or pastillas or yema.

It was not easy to find dayap.  While it may have been plentiful when I was a child (and yes, we took it for granted), it is a bit difficult to find them these days.  In fact, I'd been searching at our local wet market (which is one of the BIGGER markets) and came up with nothing, until someone told me to look in the VEGETABLE section (I had been looking in the fruit section...)  And lo and behold!  there were a few limes... and they were quite pricey!

Anyway, I bought some and went about making the lime curd, staying quite faithful to the recipe except for using the zest.

My lime curd...


How I made my lime curd -

Beat 1/4 cup softened salted butter and 3/4 cup sugar together.  Add 2 eggs, one at a time.  Add 1/4 cup lime juice (mixture may look curdled).  Mix well.

Pour the mixture into a thick bottomed saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 10 to 15 minutes.  (Remember to cook until at least 160F, which is the temp when eggs are safe.)

Here is the book where I found the recipe (picture courtesy of Google images)

The original recipe (for the Lime Curd Tart) can be found online here.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Chocolate Mousse Cake, Travel-Friendly Version

A friend of a friend who got a taste of my Chocolate Mousse Cake asked me if I was willing to teach him how to make the cake (and share the recipe as well).  The problem?  He didn't have an oven or baking pans... hmmm...

Well, I figured out a way... sort of...

Given that he had no oven or baking pans, there really isn't a way for him to bake the cake layer.  Solution?  Buy one - a plain sheet cake, pound cake or even a brownie, and put it (cut to size) in a plastic container (about 2 liter capacity, with lid to make it travel friendly).  Pour in the mousse and chill until set.  Then spread whipped cream on top and sprinkle the mini chocolate chips on top.  Chill again until set.

Here's the recipe for the marshmallow mousse...  (because I have a thing against raw eggs, I used marshmallows)

Melt together 200 grams of bittersweet chocolate (at least 60%), 1 cup mini marshmallows, and 1/2 cup milk.  Cool to room temperature before using, stir occasionally.

Meanwhile whip 1 cup heavy cream; chill in freezer 5 to 10 minutes.  Fold whipped cream in melted chocolate-marshmallow mix.  Pour into the container (on top of the chocolate cake or brownie layer).  Chill until set.

Whip 1 cup heavy cream.  Pour over set mousse, sprinkle top with mini chocolate chips or chocolate shavings.  Chill until ready to serve.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Iced Chrysanthemum Tisane

We had dinner at a Chinese restaurant recently and the little girl discovered chrysanthemum tea.  She asked what it was and we explained that it is a "tea" that is made with chrysanthemum flowers, (although I suspect that the brew offered by the restaurant is actually a "powdered" ice tea mix).  The little girl was so enamored by it that she asked me to make "flower tea" at home, sweetening the deal by offering to help me. 

Good thing I still had some dried chrysanthemum flowers!

The tea itself was not difficult to make, nor did it take too long.  But that's if you like hot tea (which I do) but the little girl wanted iced tea, so she had to wait!

Anyway, my mom always said that chrysanthemum tea had "cooling" effects, which meant that it "cools" the body, so it was a very good drink for summer time.  Or when a person is "hot" with fever, flu, sore throat, or ... STRESS!  Supposedly, this tea also helps with liver rejuvenation, as well as enhancing general health and reducing signs of age.  

And here's our tea "brewing"...

To make it -

1/2 cup dried chrysanthemum flowers (about 15 grams, thereabouts)
1 tablespoon dried goji berries
6 cups of water
2 to 3 tablespoons rock sugar (or to taste) (about 30 to 50 grams)

Boil the water with the rock sugar until the rock sugar melts.

Meanwhile, rinse the chrysanthemum flowers with hot water (pour in hot water, count 1, 2, 3 then strain immediately).  Rinse the dried goji berries (the same way), too.

Let the water boil about 5 minutes then turn off the fire.  Count 1 to 25 (slowly) then put the flowers and goji berries in.

Steep for 10 minutes.  (longer steeping time means stronger flavor.)  Strain and decant to a bottle and let cool completely.  Chill overnight.  (Adding ice is not recommended because it dilutes the mix too much.)

For hot tea, omit the rock sugar and steep 5 minutes after rinsing the flowers.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Paksiw na Pata, Filipino style

Paksiw is a favorite "seasoning mix" of mine but pata (pork leg or hock in English) as a meat part is definitely not one that I prefer.  For one thing, it has too much skin/fat, hence less meat, and it takes a LONG, LONG time to cook until tenderized.  But for some unknown reason, I got some while I was at the supermarket with lola a couple of weeks ago.

I usually make the Chinese style Paksiw, using chunks of pork belly or pork shoulder but this time, however, I wanted to try a different recipe... and the pressure cooker (which is so rarely used!)... since I only had about an hour to cook - to simmer the dish on the stovetop would take a couple of hours!

I decided to follow a recipe found in a cookbook given to me - Our Family Table (Heirloom Recipes & Others, compiled and edited by Carolina Guevarra) - although I haven't seen this for sale in bookstores.

Anyway, here is my dish...

While my basis for this dish was the original recipe found in the book, I found that in order to adapt the recipe to the pressure cooker, I had to make a few changes, the most crucial of which was to change the proportion of the liquids, since I had to have enough liquid to cover most of the meat (I also like a saucier dish!).  Anyway, here is what I did -

First thing is to have a whole piece of pork pata (front part preferred) sliced into pieces (and I discarded the "hoof" part).  Second thing is to clean and parboil the pata.

Then I placed the pata, together with the following in the pressure cooker.

1 cup native vinegar
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 pieces bay leaves
about 2 teaspoons dried marjoram
2 tablespoons smashed peppercorns (not ground pepper)
1 whole bulb of garlic, smashed
a lot of banana blossoms, knotted
about 1 to 2 cups water

A note for the water, I initially added a cup but it seemed too little to cover the meat pieces so I added half a cup more.

Another note regarding the marjoram - the recipe specified oregano and I thought I had some in my spice cupboard but I couldn't find it so I used marjoram instead.

Anyway, place the cover on the pressure cooker and pressure cook 15 to 20 minutes (after the cooker begins to whistle).  Let the pressure go down and open the pot.  Check if the pork pata is cooked/soft then check seasonings.

I had to adjust mine by adding a couple tablespoons more soy sauce (because I use a less salty, light soy sauce).

Final note - I found other recipes in other cookbooks where the sugar is a whole lot more than 2 tablespoons.  But while I wanted a hint of sweetness, I did not want an overly sweet dish!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Egg Whites Scramble and Dried Scallops

After making some custard, I had a lot of egg whites left over (4 to be exact).  So I decided to make this dish -

Here's how to make the dish:

1. soak about 1 tablespoon dried scallops (not whole) about 4 hours

2. after soaking, place the scallops in a glass bowl with a thin slice of ginger and steam for about 30 minutes

3. after steaming, discard the ginger slice and let the scallops cool completely then shred them

4. whisk 4 egg whites with 1/4 cup low fat milk and 2 tablespoons chicken stock or soaking liquid

5. season the whisked egg whites with a large pinch of salt and several shakes of the pepper mill (or to taste)

6. fold in the steamed, shredded scallops (reserve some as topping)

7. heat a frying pan (with at least 2 tablespoons of canola oil).  stir fry the egg whites with scallops until just cooked (stir constantly)

8. do not overcook. when the whites are just about cooked, transfer immediately to a serving plate and top with reserved shredded scallops.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Sauteed Mushrooms

I love fresh mushrooms.  The usual ones we find are shitake, enoki, oyster, Korean shimeji, Korean king oyster, button mushrooms... but while on a road trip up north, I found these...

fresh straw mushrooms:

And these fresh mushrooms whose name I don't know:

I cooked the mushrooms in a simple way that highlights their natural taste and exceptional texture... sauteed in butter with onions.

I found the recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks - a real classic - and my first cookbook at the age of 10 (it was published in 1980).  My original copy was drowned by Ondoy but my brother found a replacement (the 1989 ed) for me!

image lifted from Google Images

The recipe can be found here. And I was quite faithful to the recipe.

I just love fresh mushrooms.  They have such a meaty flavor to them and the texture is different, with a bit of a "crunch"!  I just wish I could find these fresh mushrooms locally!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Caramel Cake

No recipe this time.  Just wanted to showcase this cake for hubby's birthday. 

I love chiffon cakes... take a peek inside the cake...


Thursday, October 24, 2013

"Sabaw Itim"

When my brothers and I were little kids, we called this dish "Sabaw Itim", literally Black Soup. To our very young minds, we called it as we saw it - soup because it was so liquid-y and black because it was so dark in color.

It's actually chicken braised in soy sauce with mushrooms and boiled eggs.

It was a real favorite and we had it at least once a month!  In those days, the dish was so much more soupier (after all we all wanted the soup/sauce on our rice!) and the chicken pieces were various cuts from 1 whole chicken.  These days, chicken is available by specific parts, and boneless, no less!  My favorite part?  boneless, skinless chicken thigh!

The recipe:

about 600 to 700 grams of boneless chicken thighs (about 8 to 10 pieces)


2 to 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
1/2 bulb garlic, smashed
a small thumb of ginger, sliced into matchsticks
2 to 3 pieces large bay leaves, crumbled
1 tablespoon mixed peppercorns
1/4 cup light soy sauce
dash of shao xing wine
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil

150 grams small fresh shitake, about 15 to 18 small pieces
(or 60 grams dried shitake, about 15 to 18 small pieces)
4 to 6 pieces boiled eggs

1/2 to 1 cup water (or mushroom soaking liquid, chicken stock)

Mix marinade ingredients together; set aside for a while.

Clean the chicken pieces and slice each piece into 2 or 3 pieces, depending on the size desired (remember that meat shrinks upon cooking so adjust accordingly).

Pour marinade over chicken and let stand for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, if using dried mushrooms, soak in warm water until softened; drain but keep the soaking liquid. Cut the stems off the mushrooms (fresh or dried ones). Rinse lightly to remove dirt and grime, if there is any.

When we were younger, this dish was cooked on the stove-top in a clay pot; it was soupier too. The way I make this dish now is with the magic cooker and with a lot less liquid.

The traditional way:

Smash some more garlic and saute them over low fire until lightly browned and deliciously fragrant! Then dump the chicken pieces and all marinade into the pot. Throw the rehydrated mushrooms in too (IF using fresh mushrooms, add them after 15 minutes of simmering.) Add enough liquid to barely cover the chicken pieces; mix to combine everything. Cook on medium or medium low and simmer until done, about 30 minutes or so, depending on the size of chicken pieces (smaller pieces cook faster). Top up with more liquid if the sauce is reduced too much OR if a soupier dish is desired. About 5 minutes before putting off the stove fire, add the boiled eggs. Adjust seasonings to desired taste. Off fire, add a few more drops of sesame oil. Top with chopped leeks. Serve while hot!

The magic cooker way:

Just dump the chicken pieces and marinade into the inner pot. Throw in mushrooms and boiled eggs, too. Add 1/2 cup of liquid; mix gently to combine everything (and not mutilate the eggs). Adjust seasonings. Cook on medium or medium low and simmer for 10 minutes (start counting when liquid starts bubbling). Place inner pot inside the outer chamber of the magic cooker. Leave for 30 to 45 minutes.  Just before serving, add a few more drops of sesame oil. Top with chopped leeks. Serve while hot!

DISH VARIATION - Use firm tofu instead of mushrooms, or use a variety of fresh mushrooms - shitake, button, Korean king oyster, straw, etc.


The soaking liquid of the dried mushrooms is very flavorful, but some find it too strong, in which case use only 1/4 of the soaking liquid and 1/4 cup or more of water or stock. Or omit the soaking liquid altogether.

If using dried mushrooms and their soaking liquid, the sauce of the dish will have a stronger, more pronounced flavor. If using fresh mushrooms, the dish has a more subtle, delicate flavor. It's delicious either way. Using different kinds of fresh mushrooms gives more dimension to the dish.

The original recipe (from my mom's files) has 1/2 tablespoon sugar as an ingredient in the marinade but I've always skipped it.  Also, dark (and salty) soy sauce was traditionally used but I'm happy with my light soya sauce (and hubby is ok with it as well) which is less salty and does not impart a dark brown (almost black) color.

Monday, October 21, 2013

More Cookies!

I've been experimenting with the basic drop cookie recipe that I (accidentally) personalized.  I wanted to find out if I could make it my permanent go-to recipe and just add other specifics to make other cookies.

The verdict?  Success!  I found that the recipe was so versatile I could make it easily into chocolate chip cookies (and other candy variants), green tea choco chip cookies and fruitcake cookies.

The chocolate chip cookies are easy enough, just add about a cup to a cup and a half of chips (bittersweet, dark, milk, mint, strawberry, butterscotch, or a wild combination of some or all!

Chocolate chip cookies -

Nutrageous-stuffed Cookies (they were pretty good but the Snickers Peanut Butter ones are still unbeatable!) -

Strawberry and Chocolate Chips Cookies (incidentally, this is the little girl's favorite!  she did choose the strawberry chips, after all!) -

Butterscotch and Chocolate Chips Cookies -

For the green tea cookies, I added some matcha tea powder but realized soon enough that the resulting cookies had too mild a green tea taste.  But it was not bad, I figure I just have to add more matcha powder next time!

The fruitcake cookies was probably the best of the lot!  I added some spices (mostly cinnamon and nutmeg) and a cup of chopped mixed dried fruits (raisins, apricots, apples, pears, peaches) and about half a cup of glace orange, lemon and lime.  Hubby declared it delicious!

A friend suggested that adding a splash of rum or brandy to make the Christmas-y feel/taste of the cookies more pronounced... and I just might do that for my next batch!

In any case, I think this will be a permanent addition to my recipe collection...

Hmmm... what other flavors can I make?  Chocolate or cocoa?  Date-Walnut?  Coconut-Macadamia?  The possibilities are (nearly) endless...

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Pork with Barbecue Sauce in Mini Ciabatta Rolls

Hubby asked me if I could make snacks for his get together with friends.  It was for about 20 people and I had little time.  He needed it tomorrow and all I had in the freezer were sukiyaki-cut pork!  I also had mini ciabatta rolls and some lettuce.  So I guess it was pork in ciabatta rolls for their snack.  The question was how the pork would be seasoned.

I thought the easiest and fastest would be to marinate the pork overnight in a barbecue sauce.  In this particular case, a homemade sauce is NOT necessary.  In fact, I used a store bought sauce for this recipe...

Easy, peasy recipe...

Marinate 1.5 kilograms of pork sukiyaki in 1-1/2 cups of barbecue sauce, at least an hour, preferably overnight.

The next day, slice 2 to 3 BIG onions and saute them until softened, not browned.  Add the pork and stir fry until done, with the sauce reduced to almost nothing but a thick clingy mass attached to the pork strips.  (Hint here, it may be a good idea to cook in batches so that the pork remains soft.  Too big a batch results in uneven cooking.)  After cooking, mix the pork together and toss with about 1/3 to 1/2 cup more barbecue sauce.

To make the sandwiches, toast the ciabatta rolls.  Line with lettuce and stuff with pork.

And here they are:

I got about 36 sandwiches (although the rolls were of varying sizes).  I'm also happy to say that the sandwiches were a big hit!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Not My Usual Crab Sotanghon

The usual crab sotanghon (mung bean noodle) that I cook (and that hubby likes) is a creamy, saucy concoction.  This time, however, circumstances forced me to stray from the usual.  The culprit?  The absence of a crucial ingredient.

The result?  A different, but still delicious, dish!

The recipe:

300 to 400 grams sotanghon, softened
1 kilo crabs, cut up (cleaned)
4 to 5 thin slices of ginger
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 onion, sliced
3 stalks leeks, sliced, white parts separated from green parts
350 grams ground pork
1/4 cup oyster sauce
1/4 cup light soy sauce
1 liter chicken stock
2 egg whites, lightly beaten

1 tablespoon sesame oil
salt, pepper and chili flakes, to taste

Saute the ginger in hot oil.  Add onions, garlic, and the white part of the leeks.  Stir fry a few seconds and add the pork.  Stir fry until almost cooked.  Add the crabs and mix around a few seconds and season with oyster sauce and soy sauce.  Add the chicken stock.  Season with salt and pepper (and chili flakes, if desired).  When the stock boils, add the sotanghon.  Swirl in the beaten egg whites.  Let simmer until the sauce is fully absorbed by the sotanghon.  Toss with sesame oil (adjust seasonings, as needed).  Serve hot, garnished with the green part of the leeks.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Basic Drop Cookies, stuffed with Snickers Peanut Butter Squared

We have a lot of Snickers Peanut Butter Squared.  Why?  Because I love Snickers and I love peanut butter (I also like the dark chocolate variant).  In fact, while I am not much of a candy or chocolate fan, it is the one candy that I cannot say no to.  The problem is we have too much that I can't finish them all!!!  (Hubby is not a fan of peanut butter...)

Solution?  Convert them into something else...  cookies!!!

Next problem?  What recipe to use?  My requirements are simple... I want... 1. a soft and chewy cookie... 2. a really easy and fast recipe... 3. a cookie that's not too sweet since the candies are sweet enough...


Basic Drop Cookies, stuffed with cut-up Peanut Butter Snickers -


The cookies out of the oven and cooking on the rack -  (the smells from the kitchen were magical!!!)

The original recipe estimated a yield of 4 dozen.  Frankly, I don't know how all of that would be consumed (even assuming that I was giving half away!!!) so I used only half the recipe and added a little less than 2 cups of chopped up Peanut Butter Snickers!

Yummmmyyyy!  I was done in less than an hour and the cookies were soft and chewy!  The peanuts in the candy provided the crunch while the caramel and nougat in the candy bits provided just enough sweetness!  I got about 30 cookies from half the recipe.  I'm definitely making these cookies again, and trying out its many variations! 

The original recipe is from this book:

The recipe can be found here, with a couple of its variants.

PS - I have just discovered that due to my poor Math skills, I made a mistake in halving the recipe... be that as it may, the outcome was surprisingly good!  Hubby brought the cookies to a get-together with friends and everyone wanted more!!!  Hehehe, I guess not all mistakes have "negative" impact.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Ham and Cheese Quesadilla

It's actually very easy to make!

Just take a flour tortilla, top it with ham slices and shredded mixed cheese (I like mozarella, parmesan and cheddar or quick-melt cheese).  Top with another flour tortilla.  Toast in a hot, non-stick pan until lightly browned then flip to brown the other side.  The cheese should start melting by then.

Slice into wedges.  Top with sour cream and tomato salsa!


Or just serve the sour cream and salsa on the side...

Fast, easy and delicious!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

3 Cup Chicken

I got home earlier than expected, which meant I had a lot of time to make dinner.  Unfortunately, a quick look in the fridge and freezer yielded only a pack of boneless chicken thighs (yes, time to go to market!) and some shitake mushrooms.

Off I went to look for a recipe.  There were actually lots to choose from, but I wanted to pick a recipe from one of the Chinese cookbooks (a Chinese or Asian published Chinese cooking cookbook, that is) but given the limited ingredients I had in the kitchen, there really wasn't much choice.  I'd almost given up hope until I saw this recipe for 3 cup chicken.  It was relatively simple, and cooking time was just 20 minutes or so!

The dish was so named due to its 3 major ingredients, which, if tradition is believed, to be a cup each of soy sauce, sesame oil and rice wine.  Personally I think a cup of each is too much unless the meat component is truly plentiful (a couple of kilos at least!) after all it would take too long to cook for the sauce to reduce if that were the case!

Anyway, here's my dish:

The recipe is from this book:

It's from my mom's collection, published in 1989 in Taiwan.  Apparently my mom bought it from National Bookstore for Php169.75 (the sticker was still stuck to the original plastic covering)!  The book is still in relatively good condition but the plastic covering had shrunk so I had to take it off to keep the front and back book cover from warping.  And when I opened the pages, the binding had "weakened" so I took out my handy-dandy glue and tried to fix it (in my amateurish way).

Anyway, while I was pretty faithful to the recipe, it has an ingredient (a Chinese herb) that I had no idea about so I just skipped it.  Here is what I did:

1.  After defrosting the 1 kilogram of skinless chicken thighs, I cleaned, trimmed, and rinsed the pieces then patted them dry.  Then I sliced them into bite-sized pieces, about 3 to 4 cuts per piece.

2.  Then I sliced 10 thin slices of ginger and smashed 1 whole head of garlic - not chopped just smashed whole, skins removed, of course.

3.  I also sliced a stalk of leeks, green part only.  And got out 3 pieces of dried chili.  And a large handful of shitake mushrooms (about 15 small pieces thereabouts).

4.  Then I measured the 3 major ingredients... sort of...  I thought a cup of each was too many so I tried 3/4 cup of each.  Except that my sesame oil only came up to about 1/3 cup so I filled the rest with canola oil.  I also used glutinous rice wine, and for the soy sauce I used partly thick soya sauce and partly light soy sauce.

The cooking part is easy too...

5.  Place a flat casserole dish on the stove.  Layer the ingredients:  ginger first, then garlic, then mushrooms, then chicken pieces.  Pour in the oil, rice wine and soy sauce.  My liquid ingredients covered everything.  Toss in the chili pieces.  Cook over high heat (uncovered).  When the pot boils, lower the heat and simmer about 15 to 20 minutes, until sauce is greatly reduced (I've seen this dish in restaurants with virtually no sauce but we like our dishes saucy, simply because we pour sauce over our rice!!!).  Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.  Serve hot, garnished with sliced leeks.

I liked it, but hubby commented that it was a bit too "soy sauce"-ish.  Hmmm... maybe next time I'll just use the light soy sauce and skip the thick soya sauce...

But this is a dish that I will definitely make again... perhaps with squid next time...