December 25, 2016

our Fil-Am Christmas food

I will always think about Christmas and New Year every time I make and serve these Filipino holiday favorites (shown below) just because they usually make an appearance during the holiday season in the Philippines.

sliced morcon and embutido made good snacks
for Christmas Day - served with a simple
green salad, manchego and brie 

The morcon (beef rolls filled with chorizo, sausage, pickles, hard boiled eggs and carrots) was requested by my husband this year. It was a bit complicated to make but may always be made ahead and kept refrigerated or frozen. Same with the embutido (steamed ground pork with vegetables and other ingredients) which may also be pan-fried before serving. Filipino-Spanish fusion is evident in both of these specialties as with many of our other Filipino holiday dishes.

apple pie before and after baking 

The American side of our Christmas food is shown above :-) Even back in the Philippines, I would bake two apple pies for Christmas using apples imported from China. The China apples were abundant during the holiday season and were not as pricey as US apples. I guess apple pie has always been my personal Christmas tradition :-) I was inspired to do the lattice top by King Arthur Flour's Apple Pie Bakealong Challenge. The step-by-step procedure was easy to follow.


December 12, 2016

fresh salad wraps

Fresh salad wraps to brighten your lunch days :-) These may be filled with a combination of favorite vegetables and are good with or without meat.

Spiralized vegetables like zucchini and carrots are so popular now and they are great for these wraps. Instead of flour tortillas, I prefer these Vietnamese or Thai wrappers. To rehydrate, simply spray the sheets with a little water.

Have a nice day 😊 

November 27, 2016

giving thanks for 2016

pretty tree along a quiet street
Thanksgiving holiday this year was another memorable long weekend with great company and good traditional food. We give thanks for the blessings of family and our special time with them. We always look forward to staying with my mother-in-law and enjoying her cooking. The turkey breast she baked this year turned out moist and very flavorful. The holiday table will not be complete without the best turkey dressing and other family favorites that she makes every year.

traditional food that we look forward to every year

Aside from the usual challah bread and dinner rolls, I also brought a sweet potato round challah version for my mother-in-law. The mashed sweet potato in the mix enriched the bread and gave it a deeper yellow color of the season. Leftovers were made into French toast the next morning :-)


November 15, 2016

stripe matcha Japanese cheesecake

I still love checking out youtube for baking and cooking videos. I've found that aside from closely following the recipe and procedure, the instructional videos are very helpful as well. Youtube has really brought many opportunities for home cooks to learn more about cooking and baking techniques. This is just one of the many interesting recipes I've found on youtube from Epipastry channel. The procedure for making this cake is complicated enough that it would've been difficult to make the cake if not for the video. Need to improve the stripes though by evenly dividing the batter. I was careless and ended up with more green matcha batter :-)

This was a small 7" cake so I tried baking it in a basic toaster oven. The uneven heating caused the excessive browning of top of the cake. A piece of foil tented over the top could have easily solved the problem.

enjoying a slice of the cake with my
new favorite tea cup :-)

Just check out the link above for the full recipe and video tutorial :-) It must be the right balance of slight bitter flavor of matcha green tea powder that makes it so popular in desserts now. I have found so many dessert ideas online using matcha.

August 15, 2016

plates of lunch for everyday

It's fun to get a little creative to make everyday lunch plates more appealing without going too fancy. Most of the time, I just make sandwiches served with a few extras to add color and variety.

homemade sesame seed roll, deviled eggs and green olives
a little twist to the classic ham and cheese sandwich :-)
dipped in beaten egg then pan-fried in a little butter
bento box ham and egg sandwich,
fruits, black olives and cucumber slices for
a well-balanced meal
bento box clubhouse sandwiches, Fuji apple and green olives

omelets are quick and tasty to make
served with whole wheat bread and cucumber slices

two kinds of cheese, fried egg, toasted bread, ham,
salami, fried egg and shimeiji mushrooms

clubhouse sandwich with crispy bacon, ham, egg and
cheese, avocado, tomato and cucumber slices
Sandwiches and salads are ideal to have for a quick lunch break. They can also be made ahead and kept refrigerated in to-go lunch containers or zip lock bags. There are so many ideas for sides to make them more colorful and flavorful. At home, they can be made light and healthier with the addition of all kinds fresh ingredients, dips and dressings.

July 25, 2016

wholesome 10-grain bread

Perfect for sandwiches and simple breakfast toasts, it was surprising that this whole grain bread did not turn out heavy at all. The crumb texture was light and springy with a very good whole grain flavor. The recipe suggested 7-grain hot cereal mix but I used Bob's Red Mill's 10-grain mix which I already have. Either one is good to use. I used a bread machine to knead the dough but it can be done by hand or with an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook as well.

The dough wasn't too sticky so it was fast and easy to shape them into logs (shown above). The dough was divided into equal parts (I like to weigh them using a kitchen scale to get equal portions) then rolled tightly into logs. Brush the tops with beaten eggs. Sprinkle oats evenly on a cutting board then dip or roll the logs on the oats for an even coating.

Cover them with plastic wrap or clean kitchen towel. A good tip I found was to use new and clean shower caps. They're the right size and fit most bowls and pans plus the elastic band works great. Set them in a warm place until they rise to about 1" above the rim of the pans. They rise very well for about an hour.

Freshly baked loaves of bread are shown above and below. I made a previous batch sprinkled with just plain water but the oats adhered to the tops of the bread brushed with beaten eggs better.

For the recipe...

July 20, 2016

classic Vietnamese favorites at home

Split yellow mung beans in the light batter made these Vietnamese crepes or banh xeo quite unique. Traditionally filled with shrimp, other meat like chicken and pork may be substituted. I also used sauteed ground pork cooked with coconut milk. As with many Vietnamese specialties, these crepes were served with beansprouts and fresh herbs like Thai basil and cilantro.

Vietnamese crepe assembly

To complete our Vietnamese meal, I also tried to cook Vietnamese pho for the first time at home. I didn't feel the need to cook it at home before because we used to go to a very good Vietnamese pho restaurant but lately we haven't been there much. I do miss and crave the taste of this popular Vietnamese soup.

A platter of herbs, lime, jalapenos, beansprouts and mushrooms to complete a bowl of pho (shown above). The mushrooms are not traditional but it was a nice addition.

I got 3 pounds of beef marrow soup bones at our local grocery to make the pho. I also got some lean round beef cut for the thinly sliced rare beef that was also essential to complete a bowl of pho. Fresh ginger and a whole onion are usually charred on a hot grill or roasted in the oven. Spices such as star anise, cinnamon sticks and whole cloves were also added to the water. I used the Instant Pot pressure cooker for the broth. I later learned that the broth was best made a day ahead and refrigerated to intensify the flavors. The extra fat was skimmed off the surface before reheating. It was a bit time consuming to make but the result was a full-flavored soup broth.

The most important part of pho is the broth. It's just not right without the classic combination of flavors. Before serving time, simmer the broth. Soak the rice noodles in warm water for a few minutes to soften them. Pour boiling water over the noodles or place in a colander and dip in boiling water for a few minutes until fully cooked. Drain well. To serve, place the cooked noodles in a serving bowl, arrange a few slices of very thinly sliced beef on top then ladle the hot broth into the bowl. Top with beansprouts and lots of fresh herbs. Serve with lime and sliced jalapenos.

This particular recipe for Pressure Cooker Pho from The New York Times was my guide for the ingredients and process to make the pho.

earthy shimeji mushrooms from the Asian market