Tag Archives: cooking

Mango

Mango

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.)

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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.

     

Breakfast

School started for all of us this week.  If you are running a household without any additional help (aka a maid), then chances are you are in the same boat as I am.  You too wake up a bit earlier than you want to, so you can prepare a healthy breakfast, and pack snack and lunch for the kids.

I have several favorite breakfast fares.  The food becomes my favorite if:  it is easy to make, can be prepared ahead of time, and has grains and protein.

(Sidenote:  My daughter was asked in preschool to sort the food in the play kitchen.  She sorted the plastic food according to grains, protein, milk and milk products, fruits, and vegetables. Teacher was impressed.)

 

Frittata is one of my favorites.  I can throw in any vegetable that I have in the fridge.  It takes 7 minutes from the time I crack the first egg, until I put the hot pan on the table.  Pretty good, I think.

Spinach Frittata

5 large eggs

2-3 cups fresh spinach

½ cup milk

2 Tbsp water

salt and pepper to taste

½ cup-1 cup cheese to sprinkle

olive oil spray

Heat oil in a large ovenproof pan over medium heat.  Wilt the spinach in the pan.  In a medium bowl, whisk eggs.  Add milk, water and pepper.  Pour over the wilted spinach and wait until the eggs set, around 3 minutes.

Preheat the broiler.  Sprinkle the top of the frittata with cheese (cheddar or parmesan) and put under the broiler.  Cook until the top is golden brown, usually 2 minutes.  The frittata will look fluffy. Be careful not to overcook the eggs.  Cut into 8 slices and serve with toasted baguette.

Apple Pie

We moved to our house blessed with three mature apple trees. They sometimes leave a lot of kalat on the ground that my husband, by himself, always picks up.  By himself.  Because I don’t help him pick the apples.

But on rare occasions that I do help, I go outside with a bag in hand and pick from the tree.  Then I make delicious apple pies, and applesauce.

Three summers ago, we had plans of building a deck and removing the apple trees.  When we found out that the cost of a deck is as much as two trips to Manila for four people(!), you can guess what we decided to do.  I am still making apple pies, right?

Apple Pie

½ c unsalted butter

3 Tbsp Purpose flour

¼ c water

½ c white sugar

½ c packed brown sugar

8 granny smith apples—peeled, cored, sliced

  1. Preheat oven at 425F.  Melt butter in saucepan.  Stir in flour to form paste.  Add water, sugar, and bring to a boil.  Reduce temperature, and let simmer.
  2. Place bottom crust in a pan.  Fill with sliced apples.  Cover with lattice pattern to make top crust, or skip the top crust.  Gently pour sugar-butter liquid over the apples.
  3. Bake for 15 minutes.  Reduce temperature to 350F for 35-45 minutes, until apples are soft.I got the recipe online years ago and I just love it.   It is a very easy recipe to follow; I can even use any apples I have.  I can add a bunch of stuff in it and it always comes out delish.  I have added a splash of liquor, cinnamon, even fresh mangoes.  Yum!

Barbecue

Filipinos have the reputation of preparing excessive food during parties.

They want to have more than enough so when guests come back for seconds, or even thirds, they still have plenty to offer.  For a Filipino host, it would be very embarrassing to say to a guest, “Sorry, I ran out of it”, or in Tagalog, “Ay, naubusan na.”

Hiya is feeling of embarrassment one gets when he perceives himself as socially unacceptable for whatever reason.  It is a Filipino trait with emphasis on fear of losing face. –from Dictionary of Filipino Culture and Values by Tomas D. Andres

Recently, I made a rookie mistake of ordering 60 teriyaki barbecue skewers for a party for 20 people.  I allotted 2 sticks per person, and added a “little extra” for our own future use.

I couldn’t say that I ordered too much dahil baka mapahiya at maubusan (for fear of embarrassment that I may not have enough food); I ordered too much because I simply do not know how much food a person can eat.

Guests would have eaten them all–if not, for the other dishes, and 3 different desserts.  In the end, I still had 50 sticks that I quickly wrapped in foil to send home.  Even then, I still had enough leftover to make Vietnamese spring rolls, Vietnamese pho salad, and quesadilla for a month.

For those trying to figure out what to do with leftover barbecue, here is my recipe for Vietnamese spring roll.  I usually use shrimp or Chinese sausage, but I quickly discovered that barbecue pork and chicken work just as well.  It is the easiest to make because it requires little to no cooking.

Basic stuffing to the spring roll

Rice noodles

Mint leaves

Lettuce

Cucumber

Pickled radish

Carrots

Rice Paper

Choices for protein filling are: cooked shrimps, barbecue pork or chicken, beef slices, even pan fried Chinese sausage.  The beauty of this dish is you can put whatever you want in it–including leftover meat.  Dip rice paper in warm water to soften, and be creative.

Dipping sauce

1/2 cup fish sauce (good quality, unfortunately, Rufina patis does not work well, Thai brands work better)

1 Tbsp sugar

1 Tbsp lime juice

1/2 cup water

1 -2 crushed garlic gloves

Thai Chili

Mix well together.

Coffee

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After cooking up a storm in the kitchen, I like to make my dessert simple and easy to prepare. After all, who would want to labor for dinner, and then labor some more for dessert?

Coffee Jelly is one of the easiest desserts to make. The ingredients are always in any well-stocked kitchen: unflavored gelatin, coffee, and Vanilla ice cream.

During my dating days in Manila, coffee desserts at Dean St. Café were my favorite. It has been so long, but I think the dessert that I always ordered was Vienna Velvet.  It was a thick drink concoction– coffee jelly in a tall glass with soft vanilla ice cream.

Those who still remember Dean St. Café, and know what I am talking about, please drop a comment and set me straight.  After all, it has been more that two decades since I set foot in that place.

Coffee Jelly Ice Cream

1 pack of unflavored gelatin
2 tbsp hot water
2 cups strong black coffee
2 tbsp sugar (optional)
Vanilla ice cream

Brew strong black coffee. In a shallow pan or Pyrex, mix gelatin with hot water. Gradually mix in hot coffee. Stir to completely dissolve the gelatin. Sugar can be added at this time. Put in the refrigerator until set.

Cut the gelatin in cubes. Soften vanilla ice cream in a tall glass, and gently fold in the cubed coffee gelatin. For fancier presentation, serve with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles.

Hands are for…

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My children are very fond of eating with their hands.  If given a choice they would opt for food that could be eaten without the use of silverware–tacos, sandwiches, spring rolls, siopao (steamed buns), even sushi, if we make it at home.

Rice and meat can be eaten with hands.  And there is a correct and efficient way to do it too.    It seems very easy, but I have seen people do it in weird and very awkward ways.  I have to say, that it is not similar to how toddlers  do it– using just two fingers and picking food a morsel at a time.

The proper way to eat with hands involves using the tips of all five fingers.  The fingers act like The Claw (you know, the electronic game found in arcades).  They gather the food together–a chunk of meat and a kumpol of rice, and in one motion, the clump of rice and meat go in the mouth.

The whole hand does not even have to get dirty, just the fingertips.  Fingers do not have to go inside the mouth too.  The fingers just touch the lips and the food gets pushed inside.

Trying to eat every last piece of meat that fell out of his taco

Anything can be eaten with hands, but the easiest to eat would be dry food.

Kamayan is best recommended for eating seafood.  Peeling shrimps, getting meat out of crabs and lobsters, and picking fish bones are just best done with fingers.

I honestly have not taught my kids how to eat rice with their hands; I don’t think they have seen me eat rice with my hands either.  The opportunity has just not presented itself.  But, I have been preparing food that can be eaten with  hands.