Thursday, December 31, 2015

Media Noche 2015

Our last meal before the year ends...

Porkloin Roast... In the pan...

Sliced and on the serving plate...

Roast Garlic and Cheese Marble Potatoes...

Mixed Balls Curry

With Naan...

And for dessert - Fruit Salad!

As the year draws to a close, we give thanks to the Lord for watching over us and keeping us in His Grace.  And we look forward to the New Year, praying for peace, joy and happiness!

Happy New Year Everyone!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Noche Buena 2015

The theme this year is simple... something that the little girl would eat.

I figured the best menu in the world meant squat if the little girl would not eat it!  So what does the little girl eat?

Cheese and potatoes...
(3-Cheese Scalloped Potatoes)

(The little girl said this was really yummy!)

(Roast Chicken with Garlic and Mushrooms)

Chocolate Cake!!!

Actually it is Black Forest Roll...

Well, and hubby requested a salad...

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Savory Glutinous Rice

I grew up with variants of this dish on the table.  There's ma-chang (糯米鸡 - glutinous rice wrapped in lotus leaves), the stuffing in stuffed chicken (which my mom calls Galantina), and even the Filipino version that is Bringhe or the other variant Valenciana.

Our family considers this an all-in-one dish, and it can be made in a rice cooker, which means it is also a fast and easy dish.

1 cup glutinous rice, soaked for about 3 hours
1 piece firm tofu, sliced into strips
1 piece pork tenderloin, sliced thinly, marinated in 3 tablespoons light soy sauce
thin slices of ginger
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
8 pieces fresh shitake mushrooms
170 grams fresh button mushrooms
100 grams fresh enoki mushrooms
splash of Shaoxing wine
2 to 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 to 3 tablespoons thick soya sauce
light soy sauce, to taste
ground white or black pepper
1/4 cup regular rice, rinsed
650 to 750 ml chicken stock

sauteed Taiwan pechay, optional

Saute the ginger, onions and garlic until softened (non-stick pan is really helpful and convenient).  Add the marinated pork tenderloin slices.  When the pork is almost done, add the mushrooms.  Add a splash of Shaoxing wine.  Put the glutinous rice and regular rice in the pan and stir-fry until all the rice is coated.  Add the seasonings and the chicken stock.  Add in the tofu strips.  Check seasonings then transfer everything to the rice cooker.  Cook until done.

Serve garnished with sauteed Taiwan pechay.

NOTE:  if using dried shitake mushrooms, use some of the mushroom soaking liquid for more flavor.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Easy Radish Cake

My mom has a complicated recipe for radish cake.  I recently found it in her files.  If memory serves me well and it is the recipe that she cooked in my childhood, then it is a really delicious one.  But like I said, it is complicated!

I found another recipe in her files but I don't know where she got it, considering it is a photocopy of a handwritten recipe; it was just stuck in the pages of a clearbook.  Anyway, it looked way easier so I decided to give it a try.

It wasn't so bad.  But because I purposely did not add salt (only a bit of soy sauce), the general consensus was that it was rather bland.  Still is was not bad.  When pan fried, the inside was soft but the outside was crunchy!

What surprised me was that the little girl actually liked it!

The recipe made 4 small loaves.

On the chopping block...

Here is the recipe

200 grams shredded radish
20 grams dried shrimp, chopped coarsely
80 to 100 grams ham, diced
4 pieces fresh shitake mushrooms, diced
250 grams rice flour
900 ml water
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Mix the rice flour with the water; stir until there are no lumps.

Saute the dried shrimp and ham.  Add the shredded radish and stir fry a couple of minutes.  Add the soy sauce.  Add the rice flour-water mix, stir immediately until the mixture is thick.  Season to taste, with salt and pepper.

Spoon into lighltly oiled pans.  Steam on medium heat for about 30 to 40 minutes.  Cool completely before slicing and frying.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Smashed Potatoes

This is perfect for Christmas Eve dinner...

The original recipe is from Epicurious...

Here is what I did - 

750 grams potatoes, cleaned and
     cooked in salted water and 6 smashed garlic cloves
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sour cream

Drain the potatoes, discard the garlic.  Place the potatoes in a buttered Pyrex dish and  smash potatoes, leaving large chunks. Drizzle oil over the potatoes; dot with butter.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper (and some chili for a someone like hubby).

Bake at 450F for 8 to 12 minutes, until potatoes turn crispy.  Take care not to burn the potatoes.  Out of the oven, dollop sour cream over the potatoes.

Serve hot! 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Sauteed Pork, Taro and Korean Mushrooms

This is another example of cooking without a recipe...

1 small thumb of ginger, sliced thinly
1 small onion, sliced thinly
1 piece of pork tenderloin, cleaned, trimmed and sliced into matchstick strips
1 piece of taro, cubed or sliced in strips
1 pack of Korean shimeji mushrooms
2 pieces Korean King Mushrooms, sliced
light soy sauce
oyster sauce
salt and pepper, to taste

Marinate the pork strips in soy sauce and oyster sauce (a 350-gram piece with 2 tablespoons soy sauce and 1 tablespoon oyster sauce, as well as ground black pepper) for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, fry the taro pieces until almost cooked and lightly browned.  Set aside to cool slightly.

Saute the ginger and onions.  Add the marinated pork and cook until half done.  Throw in the mushrooms.  Add chicken stock, 1/4 cup at a time, so the mixture is not too dry.  Finally, add the taro.  Season to taste.  Simmer until done; thicken with cornstarch slurry.


Saturday, December 5, 2015

Pancit Luglug

What's the difference?  Pancit Luglug, Pancit Palabok, Pancit Malabon...  they kinda look and taste the same.  (My personal favorite is a very saucy Palabok!)

Well, as far as I know, Pancit Palabok is the one with thin noodles, Luglug is the one with thick noodles, and Malabon is the one with thick noodles and the sauce mixed right in!

So this is my (puerile attempt at) Pancit Luglug...

It looks nice right?  Well, it did not taste nice!  It was rather bland, even with the toppings of adobong squid, chicharon, shrimp, pork, egg and pechay!

I basically followed the recipe found on, except that I forgot about the patis (fish sauce) and the calamansi.  Despite the lousy taste, everyone ate it.

Later, I recounted to friend T how this experiment flopped - that it was bland tasting no matter how I salted it, she berated me for not using patis (since she's the one who gave me the super-tasting fish sauce!)  The next day I tried to fix the sauce by using patis and true enough, everyone commented how much better tasting the dish was!  Which goes to show, some recipes you just have to follow... and don't forget anything!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Leche Flan Cups

The little girl had a project for their English class.  Their group (of 3 students) were tasked to market Filipino sweets by using lots of adjectives (and some props).  The little got got leche flan.  Initially I was just thinking of make a paper model of a leche flan but the little girl wanted to bring real ones.  Hubby suggested to just buy one but then the little girl wanted everyone in class to have one!  Long story short, we just made leche flan in small individual cups!

My standard recipe (from long, long ago) was simple... 10 egg yolks, 1 can condensed milk, 1 large can of evaporated milk, 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla, and the secret ingredient?  drops of real dayap juice!

Problem?  I had no idea what to do with all the egg whites, so in the end, I decided to just use 5 whole eggs!  As for the caramel, an online friend suggested adding maple syrup to the sugar to make the caramel extra special.

So that's what I did...

First, I mixed the whole eggs, milks and flavorings together.  I strained the mixture (there was a bit o whole egg whites) and then poured it into individual cups and steamed them - over low-medium heat for about 12 minutes, that's it.  I let them cool before adding the maple-caramel.

The little girl liked it, so did I and Lola and A-te J.  Hubby, however, did not!  He found it lacking in texture and richness!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Stewed Snow Fungus, Pears and Red Dates

The last time I cooked this was in 2010.

But when I saw the lovely Packham pears at the nearby fruit store, I couldn't resist buying a pack.  And because I knew my mom would enjoy having snow fungus, I made a batch... no sugar added of course!

Here are the cast of characters...

Here's the recipe:

2 pieces Packham pears or about 4 pieces Chinese pears
1 - 2 pieces dried snow fungus (about 25 grams), rehydrated
12 pieces dried red dates (Chinese jujube), rehydrated
2 liters purified water

Soak the snow fungus in water (not hot) for about 20 minutes. Remove the hard "core" and shred into manageable pieces. Remove any dirt, if any. In the meantime, peel the pears and slice into larges slices or cubes. Make 7 cuts on one end of each red date.

Put the pears, snow fungus, red dates and water into a slow cooker pot.  Cook about 45 minutes (for a crunchier bite to the snow fungus) or up to an hour and 15 minutes (for a really tender and soft snow fungus).  Remove the pears midway if necessary to prevent them from crumbling). Let the water reduce to about 1 liter or so.  Return the pears. Serve immediately.

This can be served cold too!

To sweeten the dish, use rock sugar.  Personally though the pears give a tinge of sweetness which is enough for me.

Snow fungus, or white fungus, is a traditional Chinese "herb" believed to be a general tonic and beauty enhancer (with anti-aging properties).  It is believed to have medicinal value especially in treating dry coughs and heart palpitations.  It has even been said that snow fungus helps battle tumors, lower bad cholesterol, protect the liver and fight inflammation.

As for the red dates (also known as jujubes), they are said to be beauty enhancers, as well as aid in lowering blood pressure, reversing liver disease, treating anemia, and slowing tumor cell growth.

How's that for healthy?!? 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Baked Stuffed Mushrooms

I have been wanting to make stuffed mushrooms but I never found large enough mushrooms until the other day.  They were pricey, but I could pick and choose so I picked 18 large ones!

This is one of those recipes that is really not a recipe.  I did not measure!  But it is not difficult.  It is so easy I was done in about 45 minutes!

The first thing to do is preheat the oven (375F) and butter the muffin or cupcake pans.  My secret here is really the muffin tins.  Most recipes suggest a baking sheet lined with parchment paper but I encountered a bit of a problem - some mushrooms did not have flat tops and would be lopsided.  I nearly gave up then until I saw the cupcake tin (I used the day before) air-drying on the kitchen rack then it hit me!  I could put the mushrooms in each cavity and the mushrooms would stay put.

So anyway, clean the mushrooms - DO NOT WASH!  Just scrub lightly with a vegetable brush.  Then take the stems off.

Dump the stems in a food processor.  Add maybe about 120 grams of spiced ham, and grated cheese (around 200 grams).  Process until the mixture is in rough chunks then add a couple large pinches of sea salt and a small handful of breadcrumbs.  Process some more.  Test mixture, if it sticks together when squeezed, it is ready!   

Place the mixture in a (disposable) piping bag; cut the tip.  Arrange the mushrooms in the muffin tins, cap side down.  Then pipe the filling in.

See how nicely lined up they are!  The final step is to place a piece of thinly sliced cheese on top.

Bake until done (honestly it is not take long!).  Serve immediately

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Green Veggies Stir-fry

A variation of the same theme.

These days I am busier than usual, which means less time to prepare and cook meals.  At the same time, hubby requests for a meatless dish!  So, killing two birds with one stone (so to speak), here is something...

Although as you cans see, it is not 100% vegetable, since I had too few vegetables on hand to feed 5 to 6 people!  But in keeping with (what I hope to be) meatless, I added squid balls to the mix.

The recipe is (as I say of all my stir-fries) easy.  Just throw in onions, garlic and ginger in hot oil, add the vegetables (which in this case are asparagus, snap peas and celery) then the sliced squid balls.  Stir fry a couple of minutes, or until the vegetables are cooked but still crisp.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and it's done!

Fast, easy and delicious!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Steamed Ground Meat Tofu

I had originally wanted to make Coral Tofu, which is a 3-in-1 dish.  But, for whatever reason, I ended up with something else.

I'm not exactly sure what the dish is but I based it on a childhood dish - firm steamed eggs but not with eggs, and with the meat on the top (instead of at the bottom).  And, Baguio pechay leaves on the bottom.

I made medium-sized dish for my mom and smaller individual dishes for us.

Hubby put a bit of thick mushroom soy sauce on his portion, because he felt it a bit bland (no salt, remember?) but overall he liked it!

2 blocks of soft tofu
300 to 350 grams lean ground meat
3 to 4 pieces dried mushrooms, rehydrated and diced
2 cloves garlic, grated
half a thumb of ginger, grated
1 egg yolk
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk
2 tablespoon soy sauce, separated
1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons cornstarch
spring onions
Bagiuo pechay leaves

Rinse and drain the tofu.  Cut half of 1 tofu and mash it finely.  Mix with the lean ground meat and diced mushrooms.  Add the grated garlic, grated ginger, egg yolk, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, and black pepper.  Mix lightly, set aside.

Mash the remaining tofu and mix with 1 egg, milk, 1 tablespoon soy sauce pepper, and cornstarch.

Start heating the steamer.

Prepare 6 to 8 custard cups (glass cups that can be used for steaming).  Line the bottom with Baguio pechay leaves (also known as Chinese cabbage).  Divide the mixtures into 6 to 8, depending on your custard cups (I made 5 individual servings and 1 double serving).  Place the tofu mixture on top of the pechay leaves and place the meat mixture on top of the tofu,

Steam on medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes.  Garnish with sliced spring onions.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Tofu, Shrimp and Celery Stir-fry

This is a simple dish.  But it tastes great, and is ready is less than 30 minutes!

Cube 1 to 2 blocks of firm tofu.  Marinate is light soya sauce (about 1 tablespoon); set aside for a few minutes.

Shell and devein about 15 pieces of shrimp (save the shells for another use).  Rinse well and pat dry.  Slice celery (several "stems")at a diagonal.  Slice a small thumb of ginger in thin slices.

Saute ginger.  Add the celery and stir fry several seconds.  Add the shrimp and cook over medium heat until half done.  Add the tofu and stir gently.  Season with salt and pepper, as desired.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Pan-fried Lumpiang Ubod

I like lumpia in general, but the lumpiang ubod has got to be the best of the bunch.  I especially like the ones from my mom's home province.  My best memory of that was almost 30 years ago when an aunt brought me loads of it - those small rolls with fresh wrappers and fresh tender ubod... all ubod and nothing else!  Yum!

Of course I have no idea how to make that - especially the fresh lumpia wrapper that was somewhat like a crepe but loads better...  I just have to make do with the regular lumpia wrapper with ubod filling and then pan fried!

What is ubod anyway?

Well, I never really knew what it was, all I knew was that I liked it.  But according to Lola N and A-te J, it comes from the topmost center part of the coconut tree - the heart of the coconut (although they also say that there is another kind of ubod).  Usually, a tree that is still productive will not be used to get ubod (sayang daw, or it's a waste they say).  In any case, there is a part of the ubod that is very tender and there is another part that is crunchy/more chewy...

Anyway, my next favorite lumpiang ubod is the one served by Via Mare... the fried or the fresh one are both ok with me!  But like I said, my homemade version is for the fried one only...  and in my homemade version, I add ground pork and chopped shrimp, just to extend the filling a bit!

The recipe is ridiculously simple...

Rinse, dry and parboil 400 grams of fresh ubod (sliced into matchstick pieces).  Drain and cool. 

Meanwhile, saute some chopped garlic (1 to 2 cloves) until fragrant.  Add 150 grams ground meat and 100 grams chopped shrimp and season lightly with salt and pepper.  Add the ubod pieces; season with salt and pepper according to personal taste.  Stir fry until the pork is cooked and the ubod is done but still crunchy.

Wrap in lumpia wrapper then pan fry until the roll is lightly browned.

Serve with a vinegar-garlic dip on the side.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Chicken Adobo sa Dilaw

What is more delicious than adobo?  Adobo sa Dilaw (Adobo cooked with Turmeric) that's what!  I have made adobo sa dilaw with pork before.  But a recent trip to Taal where we tasted authentic adobo sa dilaw, using chicken on the bone, had me craving for it.  And, as it was impractical to go back to Taal, I just had to make it at home.  For my homemade version, I added boiled eggs too.

The recipe is virtually the same as my usual adobo sa dilaw with minor changes.

1 kilo chicken legs, rinsed, cleaned and patted dry
6 pieces yellow ginger, sliced
1 small onion, sliced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp black and white peppercorns
1/4 cup local vinegar
1 cup soda water (7-Up or Sprite)
3/4 cup to 1 cup water
2 pieces bay leaf
2 pieces dried chili
1/2 to 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
4 pieces hard-boiled eggs

Saute the yellow ginger, onion, garlic and peppercorns.  Add the chicken.  Cook until the chicken is lightly browned.  Pour in the vinger, soda and water; do not stir until the liquid boils.  Throw in the bay leaves and dried chili.  Season with salt, to taste.  (Remember that different kinds of salt have varying levels of saltiness.)

Simmer until the chicken is tender, about 30 to 40 minutes (depending on the size of the chicken legs).  Add the boiled eggs when almost done.  Simmer further until the eggs are heated through.

Serve over hot rice.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Stovetop Granola

My problem with making granola is that it is always a large batch, as well as taking quite a bit of time.  A batch takes us almost a month to finish and towards the end, it deteriorates even just a little bit no matter how well it is stored.

The good news is that there is a easier, faster way to make granola, even if it is only for a single serving!  And no preheating the oven too!  This is granola cooked on the stove top!

Toast 1/3 cup rolled oats, 3 tablespoons chopped cashews, and 1/2 tablespoon sesame seeds in a wide, flat (nonstick) pan.  Add 1/2 tablespoon each of canola oil and organic honey and toss until everything is coated.  Stir occasionally until light brown, over low to medium heat (take care not to burn the mixture).  Add 1 teaspoon wheat germ.  Stir to mix completely.  Remove from heat, transfer to a plate to cool.  Add your preferred dried fruit mix. 

I based my stovetop granola on the recipe found at

Monday, October 19, 2015

Fudgy Mocha Cashew Brittle Bars

I still had a hangover from the typhoon.  And I was looking for something sweet to nibble on...  I remembered these mocha bars that I found in Cooking Light 2006 (or 2005) Annual Recipe Book...

The recipe can be found online here.  I followed the recipe quite faithfully, except for using (1) 2 smaller pans, (2) light brown sugar, and (3) cashew brittle instead of toffee bits.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Frambled Eggs

I usually have a fried egg for breakfast everyday.  This is usually how I like it - crisp on the edge with a just cooked yolk (I don't like raw eggs!)...

But the other day I read an article about a "new" style of cooking eggs.  When I read the whole article though, I realized that we had already been making that kind of egg when we were kids... the article called them frambled eggs - a mix of fried and scrambled.  When I was young, we called it broken fried eggs!

It always starts with a couple of eggs poured into the pan.  If or when one of the yolks broke...

We would just mix it up! 

And we kept on mixing... and mixing...

We end up with eggs that are (what the article calls) frambled!

It's ok, I like it, but I prefer my go-to fried egg.  Hubby tried it too and he liked it!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Tortang Alamang (Krill Patties)

These are just like Dulong Patties (they look alike too), but instead of using silverfish, alamang, shrimp fry or krill in English, is used.

Personally, I like this better than dulong patties.  The problem is finding really small and super fresh fry.

The recipe is virtually the same:

500 grams really fresh shrimp fry
1/2 to 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup chopped onions, scallions, tomatoes, wansoy and/or a mix
juice of 1 calamansi
large pinch of salt (to taste)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
1 beaten egg (we use super jumbo eggs)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Rinse the shrimp fry under running water and drain.  Pick through the shrimp fry and remove foreign objects.  Rub lightly with a small handful of rock salt, then rinse again and drain.

Mix everything together.  If the mixture is too dry, add water by tablespoonfuls.  Mixture should just hold together.

Drop the batter into very hot oil and fry a couple of minutes until the patties are browned and crisped.  Drain on paper towels.

I like mine with ketchup.  Hubby likes them with mayonnaise!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Chicken with Broccoli

Whenever I see broccoli, I always think Chinese food.  Maybe it has something to do with my childhood, who knows?  All I remember is that we often had broccoli, and it was cooked with either chicken strips or pork strips.

This particular dish is on the bland side.  As always, when the dish is for my mom, I do not add salt and I try to be light-handed with the soy sauce (aside from using quality and hopefully low-sodium soy sauce, of course!).  But go ahead and season the dish according to your taste!

The recipe:  

 500 grams skinless, boneless chicken thighs
1 large head of broccoli
6 thin slices of ginger
3 cloves, sliced into slivers
1 small onion, sliced thinly
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
water, as needed

Marinade for the chicken:
1/2 tablespoon thick soya paste
1/2 tablespoon shao xing wine
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch

Trim the excess fat from the chicken, then rinse and pat dry.  Slice the chicken into strips and marinate for about 20 minutes.  Meanwhile, prepare the broccoli.

Separate the broccoli into florets, rinse and drain.  If there is a short stalk attached, remove the outer stalk  and slice into the inner stalk into thick strips.

Saute the garlic and quick fry the broccoli stems for about a minute.  Add the florets and stir fry another 30 to 60 seconds.  Remove from the pan.

Saute the ginger and onions.  Add the chicken strips and all of the marinade.  Stir fry until the chicken is partially cooked.  Add back the broccoli and add the seasonings.  If the mixture is too dry, add water (in small increments).  Cook until the chicken is done.  Check and adjust seasonings according to taste.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Ina Garten's Outrageous Brownies

I am a fan of Ina Garten.  I love her shows and I am enamored with her cookbooks!

Here is her brownies.  It is great for a crowd or party because the recipe makes a really big batch.

And it has a lovely texture... very fudgy... and chocolate-y...  after all 3 kinds of chocolate are used (unsweetened, bittersweet, and chocolate chips).

I added a little bit of nuts, because I like nuts...  I also did not bake everything in a big pan, instead, I used aluminum brownie pans (so that I could give them away to family and friends) and for our own, I baked a few in shallow round cups.

They were good, but a tad on the sweet side.  I think it was so because of the chocolate chips, which were sweet chips.  I think next time I will use bittersweet or at least semi-sweet chocolate chips.  (My friend Daisy suggests using cocoa nibs.)

I sent a box over to my mom and my brother.  My brother said they were good.  My mom said... too sweet!

The recipe can be found here (click for the recipe).

Friday, September 25, 2015

Pork, Sausage and Beans

Just because I wanted to see if I could do it...  from scratch...

2 cups cooked beans, drained (or for a shortcut, use canned)
250 grams pork, sliced
1 to 2 pieces sausage, sliced
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 small can pimiento, drained, diced
1/4 cup brown sugar or honey
Italian seasoning
bay leaf
2 to 3 pieces dried chili, chopped

Saute onion and garlic.  Add pork and a large pinch of salt.  Add sausage and stir fry serveral seconds.  Add the beans, tomato sauce, pimiento and enough stock to barely cover everything.  Season with Italian seasoning (about 1/2 teaspoon) and salt and pepper, to taste.  Throw in a bay leaf.  Simmer in magic cooker for about 3 hours.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Lumpiang Hubad

Or, cooking without a recipe...

When I was little, I used to watch a Chinese cooking show (yes, in Chinese!).  I was fascinated because the food always looked good and seemed easy to make - imagine 2 or 3 dishes all done in 30 minutes!  Of course I was young and did not know the magic of TV... but what amazed me even then was that no measuring instruments were used.

So how did she cook then?  Well, she would always say... a bowl of this, half a bowl of that, two bowls of this...  a pinch of salt... that sort of thing...  Of course when I followed instructions for my first dish (ever!), it was a dismal failure!  How was I to know that I should have used a standard bowl?  We had several, all of different sizes at that, and I used them all!

How's that memory relevant now?  Well, these days, there is such a thing as cooking without a recipe!  Or precise measurements.  Such as this dish...

Lumpia is the Filipino spring roll.  Lumpiang Hubad is literally "spring roll that is naked".  In short, it is just the filling of the spring roll.

There are many variations of the spring rolll - a meat filled version "Lumpiang Shanghai" and the vegetable version "Lumpiang Gulay" or simply "lumpia".  The vegetable version has many variations too, depending on the vegetables used.  It is usually a mix of cabbage, carrots, green beans, bean sprouts, singkamas (jicama), with a little ground pork and/or chopped shrimp.  My favorite version is the one with mostly bean sprouts with a little carrot and green beans, with quite a bit of meat and shrimp.

We make this without using a formal recipe at all, or exact measurements.  While we always buy the bean sprouts (it's the main ingredient after all), everything else is depending on what can be found in the fridge.  This particular time, it was only a lonely carrot.  And about 100 grams of ground meat and 6 pieces of shrimp!

So, how does one go about cooking without a recipe?

Well, it always begins with sauteing garlic and onions.  Then stir-frying the ground meat and the chopped shrimp.  Then the vegetables (rinsed, dried and sliced into similar size) are thrown in.  If the mixture is too dry, then water is added gradually.  Then it is seasoned to taste (in this case, very lightly with soy sauce and pepper, no salt because the dish is for my mom, remember?)

Easy, right?


Thursday, September 17, 2015

Roast Chicken, the Day After

This is a great way to make a new dish out of old roast chicken.  had 3/4 of a chicken left over so for today's lunch we had Creamed Chicken and Mushrooms over Smashed Potatoes!

To make the creamed chicken and mushrooms, shred leftover roast chicken.  If the chicken has gravy, thin it with a little hot water.

Saute onions and sliced mushrooms then throw in the shredded chicken with its gravy.  My gravy was a cream gravy so my dish turned out whitish, but white or brown gravy is fine.  (Lechon manok sauce doesn't work so well, though.)  If the roast chicken has no gravy, add chicken stock and some fresh milk or cooking cream and thicken with cornstarch slurry.  Cook until the mixture just boils.  Season to taste.  Then serve on top of potatoes or rice! 

That's it!  Easy-peasy!  Hubby didn't even notice (or recognize) that it was the previous night's dinner!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Braised Chicken with Chestnuts and Mushrooms

Once in a while I cook for my mom and when I do, I always try to make the dish no-salt-added.  Why?  Because she developed hypertension early (in her late 30s I think) and since then she has tried to reduce her salt intake.  So her taste buds (and ours, too because she cooked reduced salt for everyone!) favors the blander side of food. 

Of course I have to use soy sauce and other condiments, but if the dish is for my mom, I would never add table salt or sea salt, or fish sauce.  Of course it goes without saying, we don't use MSG.

It is not easy to please my mom, but somewhere along the way, I stopped trying.  I just send over the dish and if she has no complaints, then it's good news to me!

Braised Chicken with Chestnuts and Mushrooms, no salt added.

400 grams boneless, skinless chicken wings
12 pieces dried shitake mushroom, rehydrated, reserve soaking liquid
100 grams cooked chestnuts
4 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
about 8 thin slices of ginger, cut into thin matchsticks
5 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
2 pieces star anise
1 piece cinnamon stick
1 to 2 pieces dried chili
3 stalks leeks, sliced diagonally, white and green parts separated
boiled eggs, optional

Rinse the chicken thighs and remove the fatty membranes.  Slice each into 2 or 3 chunks.  Marinate for at least 30 minutes in the mixture of soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, 2 tablespoons of mushroom soaking liquid, half the ginger, half the garlic, star anise, and cinnamon stick.

Saute the remaining garlic and ginger, onion, dried chili, and white part of the leeks.  Add the chicken and marinade.   Add the mushrooms and chestnuts.  Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.  If the mixture seems too dry, add reserved mushroom liquid by tablespoons.  Simmer for about 15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.  Add the boiled eggs in the last 3 to 5 minutes, if using.  Thicken with cornstarch slurry.  Garnish with the green part of the leeks.  Serve immediately.

The secret to the dish is the very flavorful mushroom soaking liquid!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Bringhe, or Valenciana

Bringhe is how it is called in the central Luzon area.  My mom calls it Valenciana, so does A-te J.  What is it?  It is, I believe, the Filipino adaptation of the Spanish paella.  In the end, the dish seemed to veer away from the paella... no saffron, no seafood, different rice used...

Instead, turmeric was used (I suppose in place of the safforn), chicken and pork instead of seafood, and glutinous rice.  And most importantly, coconut milk!  So what is difference among the Bulacan, Pampanga and Visayan (Valenciana) versions?  I honestly do not know.  I asked around and what I got was... Bulacan version adds peas and uses ham.  Pampanga version adds raisins and uses chorizo.  The Pinoy Valenciana is apparently closer to the paella since it has shrimp, and either saffron or turmeric or both can be used.  In all of the cases, coconut milk is used!

This is how I made my version...

750 g chicken thighs (or wings)
salt and pepper
thin slices of ginger
4 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
200 grams bacon, trimmed of fat, sliced into bite-sized pieces
2 tablespoons finely chopped turmeric
1 green bell pepper, julienned
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 cup glutinous rice
1/4 cup regular rice
1 cup chicken stock
400 ml coconut milk
1 to 2 tablespoons raisins

Rub salt and pepper onto chicken thighs.  Meanwhile saute the ginger.  Flash fry the chicken until lightly browned.  Remove the chicken from the pan.  Remove the ginger.

Saute the onion and garlic until fragrant.  Add the crushed turmeric; press down and stir fry until the mixture in the pan is evenly yellow.  (Alternatively, use 2 to 3 teaspoons of powdered turmeric.)  Add the bacon and bell peppers.  Stir fry a few minutes.  Add the rice and chicken stock.  Mix until the rice is covered yellow.  Add the chicken back to the pan.  Simmer 5 minutes.  Add the coconut milk; mix.  Simmer another 10 to 15 minutes, mixing occasionally.  Add the raisins.  Then lay a banana leaf flat on the mixture, simmer another 5 minutes, or until the rice is cooked.  Make sure that the chicken is also cooked through.

Serve on a large banana leaf, garnished with slices of hard boiled eggs.