Category Archives: Filipino Recipe

Kale Chips

Here is another recipe for kale chips.  I have always used the curly ones, but recently found that the dinosaur variety (a.k.a. Tuscan kale and Lacinato kale) was more hearty and easier to bake.

I make my kale chips with this now.


Kale Chips

  1. Preheat oven to 300F.
  2. Wash, dry and cut off the middle part of the leaf.  (Leaving it will make the leaf soggy instead of crunchy)LacinatoKale2
  3. Arrange in a tray without overlapping.
  4. Spray lightly with oil and season with salt.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes or until crispy.
  6. Kale chips can keep in an airtight container for a week.IMG_2825We usually consume whatever I make within the day

Panna Cotta

Panna Cotta is an Italian dessert made by simmering cream, sugar, and gelatin. Fresh fruits usually top this dessert.

Although this is not of Philippine origin, this can easily be tweaked to highlight Filipino flavors.

Mangoes are the fruits that first come to mind to flavor this dessert. They are abundant in the Philippines (and they are my favorite!)  It is also a fruit that can easily be pureed and incorporated into the mixture.  Diced golden ripe mangoes would the perfect topping.

I made this dessert for our New Year’s Eve meal.  I would have loved to use mangoes, but mangoes are not in season.

So, I did what a good cook does– use what is in season or what I have readily available.  In this case, I had raspberries and blueberries (not in season either, but I had them in the fridge.)

If you are going to flavor the cream with real mangoes, puree 1 cup of ripe mangoes and mix with the cream mixture after the gelatin and sugar have been dissolved.  And instead of using two packets of unflavored gelatin, use three packets.

Panna Cotta

1 cup whole milk

2 tablespoons unflavored powdered gelatin
3 cups half and half or whipping cream

1/3 cup honey

1 tablespoon sugar
Pinch salt
2 cups assorted fresh berries

Place the milk in a heavy saucepan and sprinkle the gelatin over. Let stand for 3 to 5 minutes to soften the gelatin. Over medium heat, dissolve the gelatin being careful not to boil the milk, about 5 minutes. Add the cream, honey, sugar, and salt.


Stir until the sugar dissolves, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat. (Add the pureed mango at this point if you are making Mango Panna Cotta).

Pour into 6 flute glasses or clear bowls, so that they are 1/2 full. Cool slightly. Refrigerate until set, at least 6 hours.

You can speed up the molding process by putting in the freezer for 45 minutes.  Transfer to the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Spoon the berries (or mangoes) on top and serve.


This is a recipe that can be played around with.  Obviously, the higher the fat content of the cream, the richer the dessert would be.

I have substituted half and half with whipping cream, and it still tasted delicious.  I have also used only 2 cups half and half and 2 cups whole milk and it was still good.

My point is you can make this dessert as rich (use whipping cream) or as less fatty (use low fat milk) and it will still come out fancy.


Cookies with Butter

Before I left Manila last year, I went to a deli along Katipunan to buy pasalubong for my children.  One of the many things that I bought was Lengua de Gato— thin strips of cookies sold in packed airtight containers.

Lengua de Gato literally means cat’s tongue.

This light dessert is perfect when paired with piping hot coffee (or hot cocoa if the kids were to eat it).  It is tasty as a snack and even better as an end to a heavy meal.  We had a family party last week and my cousin who just came back from Manila had a jar of Lengua de Gato from Good Shepherd.

I decided to do a little research and make my own Lengua de Gato to give to neighbors and friends.

IMG_1151Wrapped in cloth napkin with a Christmas decor accent, this gift looks elegant.

Lengua de Gato

1/2 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)

1/2 cup superfine white sugar

3 egg whites

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour *

1/4 cup pecans (coarsely chopped)

Preheat oven to 375F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper (makes it easy to take the lenguas off).  Cream butter with superfine sugar (superfine sugar is regular sugar that was pulsed in a food processor, this is different from confectioner’s sugar). Gradually add the egg whites to the mixture, and continue to beat at high speed until everything is combined. Fold in chopped pecans.


Scoop the mixture in small bag and snip one corner (a piping bag can also be used).  Pipe a narrow strip (pencil thin) two-inches long.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Once it cools, serve or store in an airtight container.


    IMG_1148Two different ways of making lengua de gato

If you make the strips thicker, the finished product will have cookie chewiness to it (like Madeleine).  If you prefer crunchy, pipe the strips thinly.  Either way, it still tastes good.


*The recipe I saw used all- purpose flour; I used whole-wheat pastry flour and it was delicious.  The pecans were my twist to the regular lengua de gato recipe.



It is no secret that I love mangoes–I love them green, I love them yellow.  I will eat them in whatever form and shape—ripe and golden, green and tart with bagoong, and manibalang (almost ripe, but not quite).

I love mango ice cream, mango cake, mango mochi, mango gelatin, mango shake, dried mangoes…the list goes on.

Nothing compares to Philippine mangoes, and that is a fact!

But rather than wait until I visit the Philippines, I make do with what is available.  Mangoes imported from Mexico can be sweet, but it is just not the same as the ones from the Philippines (Cebu, Zambales or Guimaras)!

Beggars cannot be choosers, so I make the best with what I can get.  For merienda (snack) and dessert, I make sweet rice with mangoes.

Sticky Rice with Mangoes

1 1/2 cups of sweet glutinous rice (malagkit)

1 1/3 cups coconut milk

1/2 cup demerara sugar

1/2 tsp salt

5 ripe mangoes

Cook rice in a rice cooker.  In a pan, combine coconut milk, sugar, and salt over medium heat until sugar is dissolved.  Pour over warm rice in a mixing bowl, and let stand until the rice absorbs the mixture.  It can be  served warm or cold topped with cubed mangoes.

(Rice can also be steamed.  Soak rice and line the steamer with a cheesecloth.  Cover tightly and steam for about 25 minutes.)

Bistec Tagalog

I always looked forward to visiting my lolas (grandmother) on Sundays. My lola and her sisters lived in Lipa, and we would visit them almost every weekend.  They would always have treats waiting for us when we came.

My favorites were:  Sundot Saging (skewered bananas fried in brown sugar), Pilipit (steamed ground sweet sticky rice, fried and then dipped in caramelized sugar), and Pastillas (sweet pastilles made with cow’s milk and rolled in white sugar).

Although I loved the sweet treats, I enjoyed the special savory dishes more.

For Sunday breakfast, Tita Nena would cook Bistec and serve it with pandesal (bread roll) or fried rice rice and sunny side up.

My lola’s Bistec is topped with raw Vidalia onion rings.  I love onions, but I don’t like them raw.  So, I tweaked the recipe and cooked the onions.

This is one of the few dishes that my children  don’t mind eating with brown rice.

Bistec Tagalog

1 pound of thinly sliced sukiyaki beef

1-2 onions cut into rings

1 tablespoon crushed garlic

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup water

1 tablespoon sugar

1 lemon

pepper to taste

olive oil

Cook garlic with olive oil until golden brown.  Set aside.  In the same pan, add olive oil and caramelize the onions  (around 4-5 minutes).  Set aside.  Still using the same pan, add a little more olive oil, and cook the beef.  Sear the beef in batches to ensure that pan is always hot.  Once all the beef slices are cooked, put the garlic and caramelized onions back in the pan.  Add soy, water, sugar, pepper, and lemon.  Let simmer for 2 minutes.  Serve with rice.


Coffee Beans

My earliest coffee experience was at 6. I didn’t drink it, but instead, poured it over fried rice for breakfast.  I can’t imagine discovering this on my own, so I am guessing that I saw someone do it first:  Kapeng Barako (Batangas coffee: liberica beans) on rice, crispy dried fish, and sunny side up. It was a favorite weekend treat for me.

We didn’t have a coffee maker back then.  We used a percolator, or sometimes just a pot of boiling water where we let the ground beans steep.

Despite this very early introduction to caffeine, I didn’t pick up drinking coffee until after college, and even then it was an occasional dessert coffee. Starbucks and similar coffee shops were my hang out places after a late night movie.  I would make an afternoon trip there too when I got bored working at home.

I still get to sneak in a Starbucks run once in a while

Now, I am a regular morning coffee drinker.  I enjoy drinking it black, sometimes with a bit of demerara sugar.  In cafes, I order mocha, non-fat, no whip.

From a non-coffee drinker 10 years ago, I have managed to be a coffee aficionado where I grind my own beans every morning.   On one of my trips back to Manila, I brought back dalawang salop* na Kapeng Barako from Lipa.  I got a fancy espresso machine for my wedding, so I  indulge on cappuccinos on weekends.

My children cringe at the thought of pouring coffee over fried rice.  I don’t blame them, but I can’t deny that I loved it when I was younger.

Kapeng Barako

Boiling water
Brown sugar
Ground barako beans

Put brown sugar in a pot of boiling water.  Add ground coffee and beans and remove from heat.  Steep for 5 minutes.  Pour through a sieve to minimize latak (coffee sediment).

*salop is a unit of measurement equivalent to a kilogram

Barako is a tagalog word which means strong or tough man.  Kape means coffee.

Kapeng barako is a common name for liberica coffee beans grown in Lipa and other high places in Batangas. Because of the coffee’s strong taste, it got the name kapeng barako.

Recipe for Kids

Polvoron is a traditional Filipino dessert that is very easy to make.  The main ingredients are flour, sugar, and powdered milk.  Butter binds them all together.  Philippines was colonized by Spain for 300 years, so it is no surprise that this tiny cake has Spanish origin.

As a teacher, I love making this in class because the only cooking involved is toasting flour that can easily be done days beforehand.  After all the ingredients are measured, the only thing left to do is to mix and mold.  If you’ve had any experience with children, you know why making this dessert with them is always an instant hit.

My mom used to make big batches of this “short bread”.  She would mix peanuts, cashews, or toasted pinipig (flattened immature glutinous rice) to give texture to the otherwise, melt-in-your-mouth dessert.

The trickiest part of this dish is knowing when the flour is toasted just right.   Over do it and the flour will taste bitter; under cook it and it won’t have the nutty taste of toasted flour.  My mom would say that the “nose knows” when the flour is cooked just right.

Aside from the flour turning golden brown, flour toasted perfectly would have a great smell that would spread through the whole house. She would ask me to go up to the second floor hallway of our house and stand just outside my bedroom door;  if I could smell it there, then the flour is ready.

My contribution to this traditional polvoron recipe is adding freeze-dried mangoes.  The hint of mango reminds me of summers in Manila.  I can’t enjoy  Zambales, Cebu, or even Guimaras mangoes (because we don’t get them here), but a hint of mango in my small polvoron cakes can tide me over until my next trip back to Manila.

Mango Polvoron

1 1/4 cup toasted flour (whole wheat or all purpose)

1 1/2 cups powdered milk

1/4 cup sugar (white or demerara)

1 cup butter, melted

generous 1/4 cup pinipig or rice krispies

1.7 oz or 48 grams freeze dried mangoes, crushed

Toast flour in a pan over medium heat.  Stir occasionally to even the browning.  It may take around 45 minutes. DO NOT walk away while the flour is toasting.  Transfer toasted flour in a mixing bowl with the rest of the ingredients.  Pour melted butter 1/3 cup at a time.  You can cut back on the butter once the mixture sticks together.

To shape the mixture into tiny cakes, use polvoron molder or a regular tablespoon for a simple finish. The polvoron will be less crumbly if refrigerated for about 10 minutes.

*The original recipe asks for 1/2 c sugar, I scaled it down to 1/4 cup because of the natural sweetness of the freeze dried mangoes.

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