Tuesday, May 31, 2016

No fry fried rice

This is a sinful comfort food. Professional rice aficionados will swear at me for a nonsense recipe.

It is a dish flavored with oil drippings. So you don't want to do this everyday-at all! It's something you eat when you are too hungry to make anything but you have uncooked (or cooked) rice, instead of potato chips or some crackers.

I guess you can try it with brown rice but I haven't tried that yet. In this case, I used the pan drippings from the Lechon Kawali I made the same day I steamed the rice.

If you only have leftover rice, microwave it first. The drippings you will use should be at room temperature to prevent the rice from creating gluten. I don't know what I am talking about but it's just from experience I learned from making this since I was a kid coming home from school. Hot rice gets glutinous when mixed with another hot ingredient.

Recipe for 1:

1 cup steam, hot white rice (if not freshly steamed, microwave it first)
3 T oil from pan or deep frying meat or (smoked) fish.
1/2 t sea salt
Pinch of cracked black pepper


Place the hot rice on a plate or salad bowl
Throw in all the other ingredients on the rice
Toss and mix until well incorporated

Eat and enjoy!

Note: you can also use the drippings from some meat or fish you baked-instead of from pan/deep frying.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Updated: Easy "Lechon Kawali" (pan fried - steamed - pan fried on a wok or pan)

This is the diminutive version of the real Lechon (slow roasted suckling pig in open fire). 

In this case, I used boneless, country style pork ribs. For some reason-United States only wants to use pork belly for bacon. That kind of thinking is not right. Please? Can 1 grocery store at least sell this part of the pig-just like how any other part of a pig is sold? 

By the #$%^&* pound!

Well, the purist way of cooking Lechon Kawali (translated as "suckling pig wok or pan") is simmering the pork belly first in a salt-pepper-garlic-soy sauce broth. After an hour or two, you take out the pork and drain to cool then deep fry it.

My version is steaming the pork in liquid-salt-black pepper mixture and pan-frying it in the same pan.

Argh! Enough already of the whining. Here's my own recipe.


Large bottom saute pan (with high sides), NOT non-stick.
Lid for the pan
Metal or wooden tong OR
Fish spatula


1 lb. country style boneless pork rib
1/2 cup water or low-sodium vegetable broth or stock
1/4 cup neutral cooking oil (vegetable, corn, light olive oil, canola)
2 T sea salt
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper


Pat dry pork with a paper towel or clean kitchen towel.

Mix the salt and pepper on a large plate.

Roll or rub the sea salt-pepper mixture onto the pork, set aside.

Preheat pan on high until it reaches 375-400°. Add the cooking oil and preheat until smoky.

Carefully but quickly place 2-4 pieces of pork in the preheated oil, cover immediately to avoid the splatter.

Lower the heat to medium high.

Pan-fry for 8 minutes or until both sides are not pink anymore. You will have to uncover and flip the meats between those 8 minutes. Cover again and continue pan-frying.

After 8 minutes, uncover the 2nd time and pour the water/vegetable broth on the meat. It's going to be messy so quickly cover again with lid.

Steam for 10-15 minutes or until the liquid has dissipated from the pan. You will hear it crackling again from the oil and it's own fat.

Uncover and flip each side 2-3 times making sure all sides are charred and looks crispy-about 4 minutes on high.

Place on a hot serving plate and let it rest.

Prepare your Soy sauce-vinegar dipping sauce.

In a 1 cup measuring cup, place 2 T of coconut water vinegar (regular vinegar is fine), 1 T of the oil from the cooked pork, 1-2 finely chopped garlic, 1 teaspoon finely chopped onion, 1 teaspoon finely chopped green onion, 1/2 t sugar, pinch each of sea salt and cracked black pepper; soy sauce to fill until 1 cup.

Transfer into a soup bowl and stir to combine.

Note: simply seasoned, fried pork of all cuts and this recipe is best eaten with liver sauce. It's a given-trust me.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Slow cooker Lamb chops Pho

When you need to feed an incorrigible, sick (with flu) person in your house-feed them this!

I did not have "chuck short ribs" as called for in the original recipe but there was some lamb chops sitting in the freezer. Actually, I have most of the slow-cooker ingredients, the hoisin sauce and fish sauce except for the garnishing-basil leaves, bean sprouts, limes and jalapenos. 

Procedure and most ingredients adapted from an original recipe by Lucky Peach.


1 large yellow onion, sliced into ½” rounds
1 piece (2") fresh ginger, peeled and halved lengthwise
1 t neutral oil
2 lbs lamb chops
+ kosher salt
2 whole star anise
1 cinnamon stick (3")
4 whole cloves
8 C low sodium vegetable broth
1–2 T fish sauce
10 oz flat rice noodles, fettuccine-size


1 C bean sprouts
½ C Thai basil leaves
½ C cilantro, stems and leaves
2 jalapenos, sliced into 1/4" rounds
+ lime wedges
+ Hoisin sauce, Sriracha, or Sambal Olek


1 Heat the broiler. Line a baking sheet with foil. 

2  Arrange the onion slices and ginger on the baking sheet pan and brush with the oil. Broil until charred in spots, about 10 minutes.  

3  Season the lamb chops with salt. Arrange the onions and ginger, lamb chops, star anise, cinnamon, cloves, and broth in a large slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours, or until the meat is just tender. Turn off the slow cooker and let the broth and meat rest for 30 minutes. Remove the meat from the broth and slide off the bones. Strain the broth (discard the solids). Skim any fat that rises to the surface of the broth. (At this point, the broth and meat can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Rewarm before proceeding.)
4  Return the broth to a simmer and season with the fish sauce and salt. 
5  Meanwhile, prepare the rice noodles according to package directions. Drain well, set aside.  

Note: cook the rice noodles less than 1 minute as instructed in the package or it disintegrates into short pieces of noodles. It will continuously cook in your bowl of broth anyway.
6  Slice the meat into bite-size pieces. Portion out the noodles and meat among 4 large soup bowls. Ladle the hot broth into the bowls, warming the noodles and meat. Serve with the garnishes.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Updated: Smoky Chicken Pad Thai (American-style)

By virtue of eating (American-style) Thai food for a long time, I thought of sharing my own version of Pad Thai. I just have to figure out for myself how to make it using available ingredients in town. 

I have to remind you-I bought the tamarind paste online and the Pad Thai sauce is store-bought too.

Go to Google shopping; type "tamarind paste" in the search box; choose lowest price and free shipping and voila-pure, unadulterated, sour and dark tamarind paste by Tamicon® will appear right in front of your face. 

Just click and click away and buy. Wait for 1 to 2 weeks for it to arrive on your doorstep. If you can not wait, just go to the nearest Thai restaurant to appease your rice noodles and tamarind sauce cravings!

Which reminds me: I often wonder why Mexico does not mass produce and sell tamarind paste? Tamarind tree and fruit grows in Mexico; they make candies and spicy confections out of it-just like in the Philippines. 

Why do I-and hundreds, if not thousands (talking about Asians-it's millions!) of Asians have to go online or drive hundreds of miles to the 'nearest' Asian grocery store (which is the nearest big city) just to buy this conspicuous ingredient?#$%^&*!  Unless of course you already live in the big city? Well good for you!

Would this musing give a Mexican amiga y amigo an idea of what I'm talking about? And maybe within the next 6 months I'll see some jars of tamarind paste "Made in Mexico" (instead of imported from Thailand!) at the local Mexican grocery store in town.

Anywho...this chicken Pad Thai recipe has smoky notes to it. Yeah-I grilled the chicken until slightly charred.

Makes 2-4 servings


1 lb. chicken tenderloin or breast, marinated for 1 hour in:

2 T tamarind paste (pad Thai sauce is fine)
2 t soy sauce
juice of 1 lime
2 t brown sugar
cracked black pepper
1 t salt
4 T of cooking oil
1 8 oz jar of pad Thai sauce
1 package of flat rice noodles
2 T tamarind paste
1 package bean sprouts

For garnishing.

basil leaves
1/3 cup crushed roasted unsalted peanuts
sliced limes
sliced jalapenos


Cook noodles according to package instructions but less 2 minutes since you will continue cooking the noodles on the pan together with all the other ingredients. Drain and set aside.

Grill marinated chicken at 400° high until slightly charred on both sides. Don't worry if it's still pink or raw inside. Let cool for 20 minutes. Cut into strips, set aside.  You will cook them again later together with he rest of the ingredients.

Using a large wok or pan (not non-stick), preheat cooking oil on medium high until smoky.

Saute bean sprouts for 1 minute.

Add the noodles on top of the bean sprouts then add the grilled chicken strips on top of the noodles. Pour the sauce and tamarind paste on top of the chicken. Lower heat to medium.

Cover to cook for 4-6 minutes.

Uncover. Turn heat on medium high, stir, toss and mix until well incorporated.

Continue cooking; toss and mix to avoid sticking on the pan.

Cooked when noodles are soft but still firm.

Scoop the pad Thai on your plate; garnish with a few basil leaves, 1 T chopped roasted peanuts, squirt of lime juice, a couple slices of jalapeno.

Disclaimer: this is in no way an authentic Pad Thai recipe that is being made in the streets of Thailand: there's no egg, no banana flower and it has chicken compared to the real vegetarian recipe using tofu or instead of chicken-it's usually shrimp. I highly recommend this truly authentic, 'street' Pad Thai recipe and also for a thorough history and also another recipe of Kway teow pad Thai. Look! It has no tamarind sauce/paste! 

With that being said, I hope you enjoy my recipe above. Thanks for visiting!♥

The Best Thing that Ever Happened to Blueberry Muffins are LIMES!

Been trying to test all blueberry muffins I've seen on the web and in cookbooks.

For some reason, I am just obsessed with this sweet-scented, creamy, quick bread that sits in a paper liner with the cracked top popping out.

What's more crazy is that I want it particularly looking like those in a local bakery: jumbo size and in a dark brown, waxed muffin liner.

For this post, I did not use a muffin liner.

Lately, I just discovered that blueberry muffins are best paired with limes. Not lemons or orange-but limes.

It just seems that lemons and oranges are 'sweet' and doesn't complement much the already sweet blueberries. Trust me-it should be LIMES!

If you may-Key limes are fine too.

Will still have to test it with kalamansi (Philippines), Kaffir (Thailand, India) and Yuzu (Japan) to name a few.

Using a key lime-flavored regular or Greek yogurt gives this muffin a greenish-tinge.

Blueberry Lime Muffins


Makes 6-7 regular-sized large muffins (or 12-14 cupcake size)

Zest of 1 lime (or 2 key limes), set aside

Oil or melted butter for greasing (if using)
Some flour to sprinkle after you grease the muffin pan

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
heaping 1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup key lime-flavored Greek yogurt 
2/3 c neutral cooking oil (vegetable, canola, light olive oil, coconut)
1 1/2 cup blueberries

Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C. Grease and flour a 6-cup muffin pan; tap off excess flour. Or line with muffin paper liners.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, b. soda. Stir in the gran sugar.

Lightly beat the eggs in a medium bowl, then beat in the yogurt, oil, and the lime zest and juice.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the beaten liquid ingredients. stir gently until just combined. Add the blueberries, do not over mix.

Grease your scoop or spoon with oil. Spoon batter into the muffin pan almost to the brim. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20-23 minutes, or until well risen, golden brown and firm to the touch.

Let the muffins cool in the pan for 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely-about 1 hour.

Monday, May 16, 2016

How to Use Lemongrass (teabags) and chilli pepper leaves.

Recently I got hold of several boxes of lemongrass teabags.

Lemongrass is a Southeast Asian ingredient (grass family) used for both culinary or medicinal purposes. It gives a 'lemony', herbaceous taste to a dish. 

Old folks back home (not my old folks though) prescribe it for cleaning the artery of fat and cholesterol to have a normal blood pressure. They also say it cleanses out sugar in the blood. 

Now please do not believe me on these; I do not claim it works but making this plant into a tea is more of a rural activity in the Philippines and nobody died yet just because "of a lemongrass overdose". 

In cooking, it is used by giving a fresh taste to a dish. Just like screwpine (pandan) leaves, it is also used to infuse steamed rice by folding it several times crosswise, tied with another single lemongrass leaf then place at the bottom of the uncooked rice before cooking.
No fresh lemongrass? Just use lemongrass tea! 3-4 bags of lemongrass tea can infuse your Southeast Asian soup (usually broths) or stew.

Here simmering together with some wild-caught pigeon/squabs (from our backyard!), coconut milk, ginger, garlic, onion, salt and pepper. Give the bird a light char first (by roasting, pan frying or by direct heat on the grill, etc...) then throw all the ingredients in the pot; cover with lid to simmer.

Chili pepper Leaves (Labuyo, Jalapeno, Serrano, etc...) in cold water.

 When the pigeon/squab are tender, add the chili pepper leaves and also a couple of chili peppers. Cover. Do not stir to avoid popping the peppers. Remove from heat after 5 minutes. Add a dash of coconut water vinegar (regular vinegar is okay) and stir. Cover again to cook for another 5 minutes. Enjoy with steamed rice or by itself.

Note: the most popular way of using chilli pepper leaves (the hot ones, not from bell peppers) in the Philippines is a brothy stew called Tinola. For most Americans and anyone not familiar of brothy, Asian soups-this is a bland, clear-brothed (ha?) soup-stew. The flavors of this dish comes out actually when garnished with slices of hot chilli peppers, kalamansi (lemon) juice and fish sauce.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Mocha Cake

"Second helping"

If you are a coffee and chocolate lover at the same time-you should bake this cake!

I don't recall how or at exactly at what age I was introduced to this cake. All I know this was a very popular cake concocted by a bake shop in the Philippines-called the Goldilocks® .

Where I grew up-there was no Goldilocks at all and this bakery was founded in Manila (capital of the Philippines) in 1966. It expanded to hundreds of outlets and franchise in that area before going national.

That means when I first had this cake, it was when some relatives or friends from Manila and the CALABARZON area (provinces of Calamba, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) were visiting and the quickest thing for them to grab as a pasalubong (pron. as: pah-sah-loo-bhong) or souvenir where they came from was this cake since Goldilocks outlets had also invaded bus and train terminals too by then. And that also means I would only have this cake at least once a year unless me and my folks or older siblings are the ones going to Manila for some emergency trip-which was seldom.

There are now several locations of Goldilocks in major cities of the the United States and in Canada (not sure but-Thailand too?) where there is a predominance of the Filipino peeps.

Back to this cake: the original mocha cake by the reputable bake shop has only 1 cup of flour and has 5 large eggs in it. Didn't use much fat (oil) either but only "2 tablespoons"! Hence the texture is more of a sponge or chiffon cake but without separating the eggs.

Reading the recipe from their "Goldilocks Bakebook" I thought the procedure was different and weird (Eggs and sugar were creamed instead of fat/oil and sugar.) I also used only 3 eggs compared to their 5 hence this is far from being a sponge or chiffon cake but more of a velvet cake since it is really moist and slightly dense with the use of light olive oil and buttermilk as the fat/liquid component.

Another recipe of this cake circulating on the web uses 6 egg whites and egg yolks and has tartar cream. The frosting is egg white-based and has some cooking required. You also need to buy amaretto (almond) liqueur for the 5 teaspoons needed in the frosting recipe.

I made it easier for you and me: the frosting I used for this recipe is butter and cream cheese base instead.

Trust me-the flavor profile is still there especially paired with a creamy, buttery mocha frosting!

Honestly, if you're not into frosting cakes, why not pile the 2 layers of cake in between a cup of the frosting? Let it set in the fridge for an hour or two. Then slice yourself with the cake and just throw a blob of frosting on your slice of cake. Makes sense-isn't it?

Since there was too much coffee involved in this cake, I ate my slice with a cold glass of milk to balance everything off!



1/4 cup hot water
1 tablespoon instant coffee powder or granules
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup light olive oil (vegetable or canola oil is fine too)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk


3 sticks butter (1 ½ cup), room temperature
1 cup cream cheese or mascarpone cheese, room temperature

2 tablespoons cold brewed espresso coffee (or dissolve 1 tablespoon instant coffee in 1/4 cup hot water, cool completely to room temperature.)

1/2 teaspoon espresso powder or instant coffee
1 teaspoon cocoa
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup table cream (canned, Nestle brand)

4-5 cups confectioners/powdered sugar



Read entire recipe starting from ingredients.

Preheat oven to 350°

Whether you're using round, rectangular or cupcake pans, always brush baking pans with oil then sprinkle with flour. Tap out excess flour. Otherwise line with parchment paper.

Combine the instant coffee and cocoa powder in the hot water, stirring to dissolve; set aside to cool completely.

Sift or combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat the oil and sugar until on low speed until smooth and slightly creamy. Beat in eggs one at a time, 1 minute each.

Add the mocha mixture, beating until well combined. Alternately add the flour and buttermilk mixture to egg mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture.

Pour batter into prepared pans. Slightly tap the pans on your counter to let air bubbles out; makes for a flat cake too!

Bake for 30 minutes or until golden and barbecue stick or toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Cool for completely on a cooling rack before refrigerating to prepare for "crumb coating" (first layer of frosting/icing).


Thoroughly mix the instant coffee and cocoa powder in a cup or small bowl, set aside.

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and cream cheese on low speed until smooth and light, about 4 minutes. At medium speed, slowly beat in the 2 tablespoons cooled, brewed coffee. Make sure liquid is incorporated and that's when you don't see any liquid leaking out of the butter-cream cheese mixture-about 1 minute or so.

Beat in the instant coffee-cocoa powder mixture and vanilla until well incorporated and you don't see any coffee/cocoa specks.

Add in the table cream; beat for 1 minute.

Cup by cup, beat in the powdered sugar 1 minute at a time. Taste a little after the last cup of powdered sugar had been incorporated. If it is smooth and creamy in your mouth and not gritty-you are done and ready to frost your cake.

Adapted from this recipe with a 75% revision.