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Thursday, December 31, 2009


It's New Year's Eve. Say goodbye to 2009 and say hello to 2010. In many places right now it's already the Jan 1st. Everyone please stay safe tonight.

Another famous Filipino dish. Pronounced like pansit. Most people who've tasted Philippine cuisine would be very familiar with this as well as the lumpia. This is a rice noodle dish with some celery, carrots, cabbage, chicken and Chinese sausage. You'd also find this in many gatherings and parties. It's almost like a must have as part of the menu.

One of the neat things I like to do is to stuff this into a pan de sal or dinner roll and eat it like a sandwich. It may sound weird to some, but totally fun to eat. 


2 garlic cloves
8 oz rice noodles
1 c cooked chicken - shredded
1 small head of cabbage - chopped
1/2 large carrot - julienned
1 celery stick chopped
1 1/2 to 2 c water or stock
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp salt

Wash the rice noodles briefly in cold water and drain. Set aside.

In a large pan on medium to high heat, saute the garlic in the oil, The saute the onions and add chicken season with a little pepper. Add the soy sauce. Then the carrots and saute until slightly tender. Season with salt. Add the cabbage and broth. and mix together. Cover the pan and bring the light boil to cook the cabbage. When the broth is boiling, lower the heat and add the rice noodles. Mix thorughly until the noodles ave absorbed the broth and are darker in color.

Note: Do not cover completely after cooking or it will spoil.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Arroz Caldo

Up next is a rice soup. A congee of sorts. Or rice porridge. Also referred to as lugaw (loo-g-ow) in the Philippines. The dish has got some Spanish influences, but mostly adapted from the Chinese. I've got wikipedia to thank for that last bit of info (here). I have my mom to thank for this recipe. She's make this every Christmas. I love it. It's probably the best I've ever eaten. I'm not saying that because I'm her daughter, but I really do believe it true. People rave about it when they first taste it.  I could eat up bowls of this soup all day long if I could with a side of bread. This is comfort food Filipino style. Yum!!

There's also no one way to make this as many Filipino families have their own recipe and tradition of cooking up this classic soup. As long as there's rice and bunch of fresh ginger and maybe some chicken, you're good to go. At first it may look watery if eaten fresh, but give it a couple hours and the water will dry out a little and it will have and creamy porridge-like consistency. Plus you can always add more stock to the mix. Serve a bowl of this with a side of fish sauce, calamansi or lemon wedges, or soy sauce.

This soup can be eaten year round. It's perfect substitute for the tried-and-true chicken noodle for if you're feeling sick. But I love to eat it during this season. It just screams holidays, doesn't it? Maybe it's the flecks of red from the saffron.

Arroz Caldo

2 c uncooked rice
1 garlic - fine chopped
1/2 medium onion - chopped
1/2 c ginger - sliced
2 chicken boullion cubes
1 Tbsp saffron
1 chicken breast - cubed - optional
extra virgin olive oil
2 scallion - chopped
roasted garlic pieces - optional
hard boiled egg - optional

Wash the uncooked rice thorough of any starches. Set aside.

In a stock pot, saute the garlic in a little olive oil  then saute the onions after. Add the optional chicken and par-cook the meat until the the outside are white. Season with some salt and pepper. Add the rice and saute for roughly 1-2 minutes. Then add the ginger.

Fill the pot 3/4 full of water. and add the chicken boullion, if not adding chicken meat. Bring the mixture to a boil then down to a simmer on medium to low heat until the rice is cooked. Then add the saffron.

Top with some slices of egg ot a couple quail eggs, scallions and roasted garlic. Serve with a side of fish sauce, calamsi or lemon slices, or soy sauce.

Note: if it looks watery, don't worry. After a couple of hours some of the liquid with lightly dry out and the soup will have a porridge consistency.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Steamed Buns

In my first ever attempt in making steamed buns, I think I did pretty good. I love steamed buns. The Philippines has their own version call Siopao. It has a meat filling. I wanted to make them like little half moon shaped pieces. The recipe I used I had adapted by pan de sal recipe. I had searched on the interweb and many of them are similar to making regular baked bread, but instead they are steamed. I sandwiched mine with some honey-baked ham that I had gotten from the Honey Baked Ham shop and some cheese from the Queso de Bola.

The Queso de Bola for your viewing pleasure!


That thing is larger 1/3 larger than a softball. Maybe even more. Cheesy goodness. I think it originate from the Netherlands with the variety of cheese called edam, which it was named for from a town in Holland. Tastes very much like cheddar. Anyway, I've got some ideas on what I can stuff with steamed buns. What i can use as stuffing for them dumpling sized. I tried one with chocolate.  I wrapped a piece of Hershey's Symphony with toffee and almond into a ball and steamed it. Sooooooo good. I was just testing that first one. But I'll definitely be making more steamed buns in the near future so stay tuned for that. 

Steamed Buns

4 c All-Purpose Flour or bread flour
1 package of active dry yeast
6 Tbsp olive oil (plus extra for dusting and rolling)
2 c lukewarm water (120˚F-130˚F)
6 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 1/4 tsp baking powder

Combine the yeast and water in a small bowl. Add a teaspoon of sugar and stir once. Let it sit for 5 min.

Combine the flour, remaining sugar, olive oil and salt in a large bowl and add the yeast. Mix it all together until it form into a dough blob.

Remove from the bowl and on a well-floured flat surface, knead the dough for a good 8 min until it feels elastic.

Lightly oil another bowl, place the dough in it and cover with plastic wrap and a towel and place away from light. Roughly 1 1/2 to 2 hrs or until the dough doubles in size.

Lightly grease a baking sheet with olive oil or spray and sprinkle some breadcrumbs over them.

When the dough has doubled, punch down the dough to let the gases out and knead it again for a couple of minutes

Cut into 4 oz or 2 oz sized balls. (10 or 20)

Once all the dough balls are on the baking sheet, cover them again with plastic wrap and let it rest for about 1 hour or until double in size again.

Prepare your steamer.

Steam ball for 10 - 15 mins. Let it cool before serving

For make the folded steamed buns: roll out rough into the desired width and lightly floured. using a chop 1/8-inch stick make an indent and fold. Place the dough onto pieces of wax paper.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Red Velvet Cake Truffles

Alrighty, these next few days I'll be showing you the Noche Buena/Christmas feast. I usually end the meal with dessert, but I couldn't resist by posting these babies first. This has now become a tradition with me which I started last year. Rather than going out and spending a load of money on things people may not like, I decide to make some delicious holiday goodies. Red velvet cake truffles were my choice this year. Well they're really cake balls, but truffles sounds a bit fancier. It has a coating of white chocolate and some red sugar sprinkles.

You make the cake like you would with any other cake and frosting. Just add a few steps into turning them into balls. You'd want them generally no larger than a golf ball. I added some photos as to how I coat the cake balls with the chocolate. It's the technique I use, but you don't have to follow it. What ever you're comfortable with. No fancy equipment needed. I used a fork and spatula.

To package them, I neatly placed then in mini cupcake liners and placed them in a treat box. Nine per box. Sealed it with a "Home Made" sticker with a little holiday greeting and off it went to the recipient. The recipe below was adapted from a red velvet cupcake recipe from Simply Recipes. I ended up making 240+ balls from two large batches. Oh yeah. Many happy people were pleased. The recipe below will make 1 batch. Oh, if you you're a little short on time you can aksp use those ready mix cakes from the market. 

They were a hit!

Makes roughly 50 to 75 depending on size.

Red Velvet Cake Balls
adapted from Simply Recipes

2 c cake flour
2 eggs - room temp
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 c buttermilk
1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp red food coloring
18 oz of white chocolate chips - 1 1/2 12oz bags
red sugar sprinkles

8oz cream cheese
1/2 c butter - 1 stick
2 1/2 c powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Note: if you're short on time you can also use the boxed cake mixes. All you will need is the white chocolate, sprinkles and the frosting ingredients.

Preheat your oven to 375˚F
Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each. Then add the buttermilk, vinegar, vanilla and red food coloring.

Once those are mixed together, add the dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly.

Pour the batter into two 9-inch cake pans that are lightly greased and lined with wax or parchment paper.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a tooth pick or skewer comes out clean.

Let the cakes cool before handling them.

While the cake bakes combine together the ingredients of the frosting and set aside.

Once the cakes are cool enough to handle with your hands, crumble the cake into tiny pieces into the frosting. Mix the whole thing together into a dough consistency.

Take 1 tablespoon of the cake mixture and form them into balls with your hands. Or use a small mini ice cream scoop for even balls.

Place them on wax paper lines rack or baking sheet. Then place them in the fridge for at least an hour to get them hard.

Coating the balls

Double Boiler:
Bring a pot of water to a simmer (never boiling!!). Place the chips in a heat safe bowl and place it over the pot of water. Wait 5-8 minutes and occasionally stir the chocolate until they are melted and smooth.

When they are fully melted stir vigorously for roughly 2 minutes to fully get it smooth and falls from the spoon smoothly. Turn the heat off. If the chocolate looks to get stiff. repeat this step again.

To micowave the chocolate
Place the chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl and heat for 3 minutes. Five the chocolates a stir and heat for 2 minutes. Stir again and reheat again if needed. 

Remove the cake balls from the fridge. Scoop a fork into the chocolate and place a cake ball on the fork.

Drizzle over the chocolate and tap off any excess until it looks to have a thin coat.

Carefully place the coated cake ball on the baking sheet and sprinkle some the sugar on top.

Once you have finished with a batch place them again in the fridge to harden.

Note: If you see and/or feel the cake balls becoming soft and crumbly place them in the fridge again for 15-30 minutes.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Jollibee In-N-Out

My mom and I spent last weekend "window shopping" and buying several ingredients for our noche buena/Christmas meal. There's a really famous fast food joint in the Philippines called Jollibee. Luckily, there are a couple of chains that have opened here in the Los Angeles are. The fast food comforts of home. They're mostly known for their version of fried chicken called Chicken Joy. As well as their Spaghetti (with hot hotdog slices). I guess that one of the perks of living in and around an area with a large Filipino community. I'm always surrounded by the comforts of the country. They also serves various breakfast items as well as burgers and the bucket of chicken.

My mom orders the Chicken joy with palabok. It is a rice noodle dish with an orange colored shrimp based sauce with slices of egg and meat toppings.

I order the chicken joy with spaghetti. See the slices of hotdog on top. That's when you know it's Filipino style as well as the sauce being a bit sweeter than traditional red sauces. Also each piece of chicken is served with a side of gravy for dipping. The chicken is tender and juicy with the crispy skin. Makes me homesick for Manila.

We also shared a side of lumpia. A Filipino style egg roll. These are shanghai style that has a ground beef mixture inside and deep-fried.

Just for fun. You'll know when you're near a Jollibee when you see the face of the bee above.  Just like McDonald's has Ronald, Jollibee has the bee.

Up next, just like how the east coast has White Castle. Here on the west, we have the In-N-Out burger. Locations mostly in California with some in Nevada and -- I think -- Arizona. After a long day of baking my holiday giveaways, I didn't want spend anymore time in the kitchen.

I got the #2. A cheeseburger with fries and a drink with an extra packet of the famous spread to top my fries with. I usually order both items animal style, which is from their (not-so-secret) "secret menu." There they add grilled onions, extra sauce, cheese, lettuce or tomato. It's been a while since I've had one of their burgers, so it was a good meal after a long LONG day of baking. It was one of those instances where I didn't want to spend another minute in the kitchen. I love their fries. I could eat those alone and be happy. Everything is made to order with fresh ingredients. So delicious.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Veggie Stir-Fry

As I try to get myself organize from the post-Christmas feast, here's a simple stir fry to satisfy the day. It's a little something I conjured up a few days ago in my effort in trying not to over indulge too much before Christmas. I stuck to the veggies. It's a quick and simple stir-fry with delicious flavor and an Asian flair.

I served this is some steamed buns. My first try in making steamed buns and I did alright. Recipe for the buns in the coming days.

Serves 2-3

Veggie Stir-Fry

4-5 baby bok choy - washed and stems removed
4 celery stalks - washed and chopped
2 medium tomatoes - sliced and deseeded
1 small to medium sweet onion - sliced
1 bell pepper - deseeded and sliced
4 Tbsp soy sauce
juice of half a lemon
1 Tbsp fish sauce
2 tsp safflower (wild saffron) - optional
extra virgin olive oil

Saute the onions in a little drizzle of olive oil in a skillet or wok. Cook them until they are translucent and limp. Then add the bell pepper and celery and saute. Stirring occasionally. pour the soy sauce and lemon juice. and stir again. Add the bok choy and mix well until the bok choy leaves have wilted.

Add the tomato, fish sauce, safflower and season with a little bit of pepper. Let it simmer for a few minutes and serve.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Maligayang Pasko


Or as we say in the Philippines Maligayang Pasko!!!

I hope that you and your family and loved ones have a blessed and very merry Christmas.

Eat well and be merry!!!!

I'll be back tomorrow with a new recipe.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Potato Coins and Noche Buena

It's Christmas eve and as you read this I'm a busy bee in the kitchen once again preparing the feast for tonight's Noche Buena as well as preparing the Christmas meal for tomorrow.  Noche Buena is a tradition in the Philippines as well as many Spanish speaking countries like Cuba, Spain and Latin America. Translated in English it means Good Night. It takes place on Christmas Eve around midnight after attending midnight mass. So basically you'd be eating around 1am or 2am. And the celebration just doesn't end with that. It continues on to around the feast of the Three Kings, which would be around the first week of January.

It's been a tradition in my family for many years. A tradition I plan to continue for years to come. Some of the common staples of the Noche Buena feast are lechon, pancit, rice cakes, bibingka, adobo, lumpia, etc. I like to mix it up each year. A mix of Filipino and Asian, American or Italian dishes. Or any other dish I'm in the mood for. Here's my menu for my Noche Buena/Christmas meal:

Honey Baked Ham
Roasted Chicken
Red Velvet Cake Balls
Puto Pao
Arroz Caldo
Steamed Buns
Quezo de Bola

The only two I won't be making this year is the ham and queso de bola, which is a ball of cheese. Everything else you'll be seeing on this blog in the next few days.

But anyway... here's some scrumptious potato coins. They made similarly to my Oven-Fried Cheese Fries except that I cut some baby reds into coins and coated them with some olive oil, paprika, basil, thyme.

Potato Coins

10 baby red potatoes - Peeled
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp paprika
1 tsp dry thyme
1 tsp dry basil

Preheat your oven to 400˚F

Peel the potatoes and cut them into 1/4-inch thick coins. Toss them in the olive oil, paprika, thyme, basil.

Lightly coat a baking sheet with some cooking spray and place the potatoes over. Bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Until crisp.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Zucchini Cakes

One thing I've noticed is that when I'm writing I have the tendency to spell zucchini with two z's. I don't know why. Maybe it's because there are two c's or some other factor. Anyway...These are great. A type of veggie cake. Think the crab cake but with zucchini. Shredded some zucchini and set it aside with some salt. That helps take the moisture out of the vegetable. Easier to cook with. It's a neat little trick I learned a couple months ago. It good to use if you're going to roasting and baking with certain watery vegetables. It helps them crisp up during the cooking process.

After I strained all the liquid, I mixed in some binding agents like an egg, flour and my all too favorite panko crumbs. i really don't know where I'd be without that stuff. Then I did a quick pan-fry. I paired it with a simple garlic yogurt sauce.

With Christmas just a couple days away I'm scrambling to get everything done. And I mean DONE!!! I barely just finished baking my (now-a-tradition) giveaway treats, so I'm glad that's over with. They're all wrapped in lovely little gift boxes and ready to go to the recipient. Come Christmas day, I just want to be able to eat some honey baked ham and all the other foods i have planned and chill out the whole day through. Maybe light a fire in the fireplace.

Makes 6 to 8 cakes

Zucchini Cakes

4 small to medium zucchini
2 eggs - lightly beaten
3 Tbps all purpoase flour
1 1/2 c panko crumbs
garlic yogurt sauce (recipe below)

Shred the zucchini and sprinkle some salt over and toss. Set aside in a strainer over a bowl or over some paper towel. This will take out some of the extra moisture from the zucchini. Toss out the liquid and squeeze out any liquid that remain with in the shredded pieces. Place in a separate and clean bowl.

Add the egg, flour and panko. Mix until a chunky mixture and divide it into 6 cakes.

Heat some canola oil in a skillet. Sear each side of the cake until brown. Roughly 3-5 minutes for each side. Place the finished patties on a paper towel to drain off any excess oil.

To bake place in a 400˚F oven on a baking sheet for 15-20 minutes.

Garlic Yogurt Sauce

3 Tbsp plain greek yogurt
1-2 tsp hot sauce
1/2 Tbsp garlic powder

Combine all ingredients together.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Green Bean Tempura with Oyster Dipping Sauce

Veggie tempura is good. I had some green beans in the fridge. I rarely do some full on frying. But once in a while I'll make an exception. I have some battle scars to prove it. Hot oil splattering plus my hand equals a not so enjoyable time. But I wanted my tempura.

The batter is fairly simple. I've made a medley of veggie tempura before several months ago (here). It's best to serve tempura immediately or the crust will end up becoming slightly soft. It's still very taste.

I also made some cherry/grape tomato tempura. They were interesting. I was intrigued as to what might happened it I batter-fried a tomato. Well as it turns out the shape remained intact. I loved how when you bite into them they seems to almost in stands breakdown in your mouth. It was really really good. Just be sure not to bite them or they'll squirt out all the juices. I know first hand.

To serve with this I whipped up a quick oyster dipping sauce to go with this. I made this by simmering the mixture in a sauce pan, but you can also microwave it as well. You'd want it warn and the sugar to dissolve.

Serves 2-3

Green Bean Tempura with Oyster Dipping Sauce

1 lb green beans - cleaned with ends removed
 Canola oil
oyster dipping sauce (recipe below)

1 c all purpose four
1 c COLD water
1 egg white - beaten

Combine the batter ingredients

Pour some oil into a deep skillet roughly about 2-3 inches deep. To test if the oil is heated enough, pour a drop of batter and see if it cooks up right away.

Then dip the green beans into the batter and fry them. Roughly 1-2 minutes.

Serve immediately

Oyster Dipping Sauce

1/4 c water
3-4 Tbsp soy sauce
juice of half lemon
1 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
1 tsp oyster sauce

Place all the ingredients into a small sauce pan. Heat the mixture together until the sugar has dissolved.

Note: May be heated in the microwave for 2-3 minutes.

Serve with tempura.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Buttered Toast Crisps

This is a little something I grew up eating. Actually, it is butter and sugar sandwiches. It may sound weird to some, but this is a snack I grew up eating. It's a bit common in the Philippines as a merienda (snack). Toasted -- and sometimes untoasted -- slices of bread with a spread of butter and sugar. The butter would melt on the hot crisp bread, then you'd sprinkle some sugar and watch is soak up the melted butter and eat it all up.

These toast crisps are another way of making that sandwich. The end result is almost like a biscotti, which is twice baked to get it to that crunchy consistency. The perfect type of bread to use are baguettes. I used some wheat pan de sal. There's really not right choice for what type you use. It's your preference. Instead of spreading the butter and sugar after the bread has been toasted, you put it on before and toast it in the oven or toaster oven for 10 minutes on a preheated 350˚F oven. Just until the bread becomes slightly crisp. These are great appetizers or a little snack. The sugar crystallizes together creating a really cool crisp sugar layer. Childhood nostalgia all over.

Buttered Toast Crisps

1 baguette or 5 sandwich slices
granulated sugar

Preheat your oven to 400˚F

Cut the baguette into 1/2-inch slices.  Spread some butter on on side and sprinkle a generous helping of sugar on top If using sandwich bread slices, spread the butter and sugar before cutting into toast points or squares.

Place on an baking sheet and toast for 10-15 minutes. Until bread is crisp.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Production Eats - No. 12

Alrighty...three shows this week for production eats. Actually the first one was a movie that will be released sometime next year. Can't really say much about it. They had me sign one of those confidentiality forms. But the food was really good though. This was for a major studio film, too, so that was a bit exciting. Here's some of the foods that was served.

Top left clockwise: Salad with balsamic vinaigrette topped with fresh mushroom slices and corn, fresh baked slice of baguette with butter, hand carved tri-tip with au jus sauce, roasted herb potatoes with steamed green beans, grilled salmon, pasta with cream sauce and pasta salad.

I loved the tri-tip and salmon.  The pieces I got were nice and tender. There was also grilled chicken, but the salmon and tritip won out. It was really nice to have some fresh warm baguette slices there. Most of the time, I've had premade rolls, so this was a nice change.

For dessert. chocolate cake and a cookie that I saved for the next day. I didn't mind eat all that because I was pretty active the whole shoot, so I worked it off. hehehe...

Next was the sitcom Gary Unmarried. This show stars Jay Mohr and is a show on CBS. Sitcoms are a bit different from other shows as they are sometimes filmed in front of a live audience, so there quite a bit of waiting on this day. First off was a simple snack meal.

Clockwise: some finger sandwiches of ham and cheese and turkey, some jicima sticks, mushrooms and cucumber and fresh made potato chips with onion dip.

A little something to hold us down until lunch. I was surprised how good the catering was. Maybe it was because it was the holidays, but either way it was really good. There was also some chicken noodle soup, but I was content with the finger sandwiches. The chips were a tiny soggy, but still crisp enough to take the onion dip.

This was a slightly Mediterranean mix. Top clockwise: Pita bread, caesar salad, a couple pieces of dolma, baba ganoush, grilled salmon, Israeli veggie cous cous and baked chicken with sauteed onions.

There was also pita chips and hummas as well as beef strips. I loved the baba ganough. Of course, if you're a frequent reader on this blog, I do love eggplants a lot. One of the neat things at the end of the night as we prepared to leave, the catering people offered us to take home any leftover food they have from the main craft service table on the set. So I ended up taking home a few macarons, several cookies, spanakopitas and fried breaded eggplant. There was even shrimp eggrolls and other items. A whole buffet, but I could only fit so much in my to-go box. I forgot to take a pic of that.

Finally, CSI: Vegas. One of my fav shows. On this night, George Eads (Nick Stokes) and Jorja Fox (Sarah Sidle) were there. Got to chat with them a tiny bit in between shots, which was really cool. That made my night. I didn't care that I was freezing and couldn't feel my fingers and toes. I got to chat with them even for a tiny bit, I was happy.

Some caesar salad mixed with a little Asian chicken salad.

Top clockwise: Grilled breaded fish, wild rice, scalloped potatoes, and steamed veggies.

There was also some grill chicken and grilled beef but those were mostly gone, by the time I reach the food. The down side of being near the back of the line. Grrr... But I still enjoyed it. The fish was flaky and tender with no fishy taste.

For dessert, some apple pie and slices of honeydew. A good way to end a meal. Later during the shoot I had a hotdog. It was supposed to be an outdoor type event. A guy was there grilling up some hotdogs so I took one and topped it with some mayo, yellow mustard and relish.  I think everyone ended up taking a hotdog or two during the shoot. Cast and crew alike. It was funny because everywhere I turned on the set someone was walking around eating a hotdog.

On to the next!!
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