Sunday, June 26, 2016

Lunch or dinner salad idea - 2 ways

Making use of leftover meat that was grilled yesterday.

Makes 2 big plate. It's for lunch or dinner-not as an appetizer or side dish. If you want it as a starter dish and there's 4 of you to eat, then divide in fours.


2 cups chopped Romaine, divided
1 Avocado, sliced & divided
3 T roasted walnuts, chopped and divided
4 T raisins, divided
2 T green olives, chopped & divided
4 T cooked black beans, divided
4 T crumbled goat cheese, divided
1 cup grilled Teriyaki chicken, chopped and divided.
1/2 cup dressing of your choice, divided.


Roast or toast the walnuts either in the oven or stove top. If you have (1 t each) honey, sugar, butter, and (pinch) salt- coat the walnuts with them and place on a cookie sheet; roast on preheated oven 350°, 5-8 minutes.

You can soak the raisins to plump them up. Hot water or fruit juice of your choice; 10-15 minutes. thoroughly drain off the liquid

Divide each ingredient on 2 dinner plates; drizzle with the dressing of your choice. We used a "sundried tomato & artichoke dressing". Don't forget the (salt) and cracked black pepper to taste.


Friday, June 17, 2016

Bright green quick bread: Southeast Asian flavors. Coconut milk, limes, basil, ginger...

I thought I would make a Southeast Asian flavored quick bread. I can not just call it a Filipino or Vietnamese (Thai, Indonesian, Malaysian, etc.) quick bread because most of the ingredients I used here are also endemic (grows, produced) in other Southeast Asian countries.

It was an out of the blue thought. I was trying to test my skills about "ratio" in baking per Michael Ruhlman's dare in his book "RATIO: the simple codes behind the craft of everyday cooking". Yes! I baked this without a cookbook or looking at my notes/internet.

This is green because of the "pandan extract". If you don't have pandan extract, coconut extract is a substitute. Your loaf cake will not be green though. 

Really tropical Asian taste: aromatic, fresh and herbaceous with creamy undertones from the Greek yogurt. It's dense but light and not cloyingly sweet. Enjoy with a tall, glass of ice-cold chai tea or just plain black coffee!

Special equipment:

1.5 lb metal commercial loaf pan; 13 x 4 x 4 = 5 cups. Otherwise, use 2 medium sized metal loaf pan; 7.5 x 3.5 = 2.5-3 cups.



2 ¼ cups flour
1 cup sugar
3 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1/2 t sea salt
lime zest of 2 limes (3 for kalamansi or kaffir)
3 T candied ginger, coarsely chopped
1 t dried basil leaves or 1 T finely chopped FRESH basil


2 eggs
3/4 cup light olive oil or any neutral oil
2/3 cup coconut milk
lime juice of 1 lime
3 T plain Greek yogurt
1 t ginger paste or grated ginger
1/2 t pandan extract (optional). Substitute with "coconut extract" if you do not have pandan extract. Your cake will not be green though.


Preheat oven to 400°

Prepare the loaf pan.

Option 1.

Brush bottom and sides of pan with cooking oil then sprinkle with 2 T flour. Spread the flour by tapping the pan on all sides until flour coats the pan. Tap excess flour on a plate, sink or garbage can.

Option 2.

Brush pan with oil and cover with parchment paper. 

Combine all the dry ingredients including sugar in a medium or large bowl. Set aside.

In another bowl, beat the wet ingredients; 30 seconds.

Make a hole in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients in it. Using a rubber spatula or wooden kitchen spoon, combine the wet and dry ingredients until just combined. DO NOT OVER MIX; visible lumps are okay.

Pour batter in the pan. Lightly drop the pan on the table, at least 4-5 inches above the table-to release air; 4 times. Place on a cookie sheet. 

Bake for 15 minutes at 400°. Reduce heat to 375° and continue baking for 10 minutes or until a toothpick inserted all the way to the bottom of the loaf comes out clean.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Beef Picadillo (Southwest-American style). 'Giniling' (geeh-neeh-ling).

This has been a long time coming. I have made this countless, numerous times-in any shape and meat. Why I can't ever post the recipe is beyond me. Maybe because after eating-I just don't give a s**t anymore who wants to try it or not. As of now-there are still 2 posts about this dish hanging out somewhere in the blog in draft form. It was from last year and earlier this year.

Picadillo or Giniling (Filipino noun and verb; which means "grind" in English.), depending on what part of the Philippines you are, is a filling dish that will make you want to go a long, sustained siesta-dreaming of swaying palm trees, the beach and endless margaritas on a conveyor belt.

This is a monthly viand at home, at least for me. Our Ma would make it twice a month. It's an easy, quick, nutritious dish that can feed 4-6 people. My husband doesn't like it. He hasn't had it before-but he doesn't like it, just by looking at it. Until the day I made it again last month."It's pretty good actually!" he said eating a bowl of it without rice. That was after making sense-the hell out of him.

For some reason I found out that he and maybe hundreds if not thousand or maybe millions of Americans doesn't like loose ground beef as a straight from the stove, ready to eat food. My husband said "it's like those quick, cheap dishes housewives in the 60's make: they just throw everything in the pan or pot and cook away and dinner is served". Don't know what he was talking about; wasn't alive in the 60's yet. Not in the states yet!

I think he was talking about his mom or aunt (Hahaha!)

He suggested that it should be made into a meatball first (or meat loaf, patty, etc.). Adding that he does "not know any Asian country or Asian person that cooks and eat ground beef into a straight from the stove dish". Well he has to eat his words: Philippines is in Asia-right? He freaking married one.

And why the heck did he made and eat ground beef taco? That's an example of a dish in "loose, ground beef"?!

For the record: he does make the meanest ground (or whatnot) beef taco (Yeah, it's too simple to make!), the most bad-ass sandwiches (French dip, Reuben) and burgers; his salads are scrumptious. The guy can whip up some stuff on his own I tell yah! Hmmm... now I am thinking of posting one of his creations. Soon.

Picadillo (taken from the Spanish word 'picar'  which means "to mince") is traditionally a dish from Spain. And if you are from-or came from the South Americas and the Philippines-I am sure you know this dish, you have savored it and you have made it before or you are eating it now.

The basic ingredients to make this are: ground meat (pork, beef, chicken), potato, sayote or chayote (gourd family), tomato and carrots. Depending by country, and region within that country, the other major ingredients are: Spanish olives (green), green peas, tomato sauce, chili peppers, and raisins.

It is usually eaten with rice or used as a filling for Empanada. Here, I used leftover ground beef taco filling instead of fresh ground beef (or meat).


If you are using fresh ground meat, saute meat after browning the garlic; continue cooking as directed below when the meat is light brown. (Filipino style)

Add 1/2 t cumin, 1 t chili powder, 1/2 t coriander powder, 1/2 t achuete powder after the liquids for every pound to the recipe below; remove the soy sauce and fish sauce. Tomato sauce is also optional. This is the Southwest-American style. 

If you plan to eat this with rice, take note that this recipe has potatoes. It's a double carb meal. Either you eat this by itself or remove the potatoes and amped the sayote/chayote so you can eat the rice. 


4 T neutral cooking oil (coconut, canola, light olive oil, corn)
5 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
1/2 of an onion, chopped
2 medium sized carrots, medium dice (cubes)
2 medium sized potato, peeled and cubed
1 sayote (chayote), peeled,cored and cubed
1 medium tomato, quartered
1 cup tomato sauce
1 cup water (or low sodium beef broth, low sodium vegetable broth)
cracked black pepper to taste
Sea salt to taste
2 cups ground beef taco left over (lastly added because it's been cooked before)
2 T soy sauce
2 T fish sauce


Preheat pan (not non-stick) on medium high until smoky.

Pour cooking oil and add garlic. Saute garlic until light brown followed by the onion, carrots, potatoes and sayote/chayote. Pinch of each salt and pepper.

Saute for 3 minutes on high.

Add the liquids (water or broth and tomato sauce) and sliced tomato. Pinch of salt and pepper to taste (optional).

Cover and let it simmer for 20 minutes on medium heat.

Add the beef taco, soy sauce and fish sauce. By this time, you can decide to add more water or broth if you want this dish more 'soupy'.

Continue simmering for another 15 minutes. It's done when the potatoes and sayote/chayote are tender but still firm.

Remove from heat. Garnish with chopped cilantro or green onion or both (optional). Enjoy!

EASY, 1 day, 3-layer chocolate cake. A Milk Bar­­® Store style cake.

This ended up to be 8" tall!

For a couple of years now, I have been wanting to bake a cake the Milk Bar® Store way: it is a NAKED CAKE which means it is not frosted from the outside of the cake but the frosting can be found piled in between 3 layers of cake and on top. It's 5-6" high in a tower-style assemblage, glued together by a dense filling made of custard (or so), a fruit jam of some-kind and a textural component made of another kind of ingredient or recipe (like nuts or cookie balls, etc.).

Momofuku® is the innovative and trendy restaurant from New York created and conceptualized by Korean-American multi-awardee chef David Chang and Milk Bar Bakery is the pastry department of the said restaurant run and conceptualized by also a multi-awarded and TV personality pastry chef Christina Tosi.

Okay I get it: it takes almost 3 days for you to be able to see and eat the final concept of their cakes.

Almost all of their cakes are just as what I described in the first paragraph above. It just varies by the flavor of the cakes; the fillings, liquid soaks, jams and the crumbs-all crammed in using an acetate plastic and a stainless steel, 3" high cake ring. They are supposed to be 6" in diameter.

See the cake photos here? They were not baked in a round cake pan. Instead, these cakes came out of a sheet pan. How did I made it round? Using a cake ring cutter. Now that's a trademark "Tosi-Milk Bar innovation". For details-please read on.

Two years ago, while reading Tosi's first cookbook-"Momofuku milk bar" (Clarkson Potter, 2011), I was amazed at how she made everything so 21st century-from cookies to pies and yes-the cakes. There are some ingredients on some recipes that are not for your average home use. It has ingredients that can only be found in a commercial bakery (glucose, citric acid, etc...). As a home cook, it was too much for me; but as I have said before: I am trying to learn new stuff-hence I don't mind these extra geeky ingredients.

In this post, I really did not follow a MB cake recipe. I do plan to make one of their cake recipe from scratch-when I am relaxed and have all the time in the world. For now, I used my own recipe to create an easy MB style cake-ready within 12 hours instead of 3 days.

Trying to figure out how Tosi's mind works was awe-inspiring. Her cakes were a "project", a DIY day. Since my car is getting some 'face lift' the past few days, I finally have the reason to have the time to make this 'project' a reality but only to my specification and the availability of resources.

Here, I really did not follow any MB cake recipe. This post happened because:

1. just wanted to learn how to assemble the cake;
2. the ingredients/materials are available.
This is mostly a post on deconstructing MB cakes. The idea of a semi-homemade cake and NOT  from scratch is mine due to

3. time constraints. 

So this is how I figured out a Milk Bar store cake.  

SPECIAL EQUIPMENT: as I said above, the cake is not baked in a regular round pan. I was able to purchase below materials from eBay for less than $20.00 including shipping. Try to find "free shipping"

1 13 x 9 sheet pan (also called quarter sheet pan)
1 6"(diameter) x 3"(ht) cake ring
2 sheets of acetate plastic sheets;  3" wide and 20" long.

Note: Tosi's cakes are made from scratch. I made mine from a boxed cake mix and I only have chocolate cake mix so that's what I used. I added unsweetened cocoa to make it a dark chocolate cake. I added extra fat or oil (for tenderness) because I added more dry ingredients (the cocoa). 


1 box chocolate cake mix
Ingredients called for in the cake mix 
Add 2 T unsweetened cocoa
Add 2 T vegetable oil

Dump everything in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer, set on the lowest power and combine until well incorporated; about 1 minute. Bake according to package instructions or until a toothpick inserted all the way at the bottom of the thickest part of the cake comes out clean.

While baking the cake, prepare the...


1/4 cup rum
1/4 cup anisette
2 T honey or pancake syrup

Stir in a small bowl until well combined, set aside.

  • To bind the bottom-most layer of the cake which is made from cake crumbs and scraps;
  • To moisten and give more flavor to the other 2 layers of cakes.
Note: MB liquid soaks are either made from "flavored milk with extracts, Ovaltine, etc; fruit juices and/or liquors" depending upon the flavor of the cake. For this recipe, I will use the latter since I have rum and anisette. If you have kids and minor/s eating your cake, use a fruit juice or milk-based soak. Again, it will depend upon the flavor of the cake you want to bake/use. Think of something that will go well with your chosen cake flavor.


  • To serve as 'glue' for the cake and other kinds of fillings.
  • For structure 
Note: Tosi usually uses a cream cheese or butter-based filling; a beaten cheesecake filling, etc. Something creamy but has the ability to hold the cakes and several layers of jams, nuts/crisps/crumbs. In some of her cakes, she uses 2 kinds of fillings, in some it has 1 kind filling. 

My version of a "Filling"

2 tubs of marshmallow creme, 7 oz each
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar

Beat and combine well until creamy. Set aside.


  •  For texture; to cut the monotony of wet, soft and creamy textures.
Note: as I was reading the recipe for most of her "crumbs" in any of the cakes, I realized that it all sounds like a shortbread cookie batter (or butter cookies). The ingredients repeats itself on all "crumbs" with "flour, sugar, butter or oil" as main ingredients, save for the signature flavor or ingredient for each cake. Example: for their Birthday Cake cake, the crumbs has "jimmies sprinkles"; the Chocolate Malt Layer Cake has "milk powder"-lots of it! 

Back to my crumbs: last month, I bought this Italian-style wafer cookies called "pizzelle" (photo below by Cost Plus World Market®). It was dirt cheap, on sale! I haven't had a pizzelle before so I grabbed a box (it has 3 pouches), just so I can say "look a pizzelle!" not knowing it taste awful. Bland. Like a cocoa-flavored water crackers-that's how I can describe it. Anyway, I thought I'd use it for the crumbs instead. The finished product was delicious! It's like I made another product out of it; like mini-Oreo balls!

2 pouches chocolate flavored pizzelle cookies, finely crushed into a meal using a food processor.
1/2 c butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
1 T unsweetened cocoa
2 T sugar

In a medium bowl, mix all the ingredients together. Form into mini cookie balls the size of marbles. Set aside.


Note: One KIND of filling should have been enough from what I figured out in some of MB cakes. I have no idea why I have to shove more fillings. Maybe because the MB cake I was trying to use as guide has fruit jam in it or maybe I just wanted to get 2 jars of fruit.

1 jar of  raspberry jam, 10 oz
1 jar of orange marmalade, 10 oz

Dump each in separate bowls; set aside.


To assemble, I will have to link you to Serious Eats site where they visited a demo class going on at the Milk Bar Store kitchen. I will be writing here the same things so it would be better if you get the idea firsthand from the pros; it is the same site I learned to assemble mine. 


Although I am proud of what I did-the deconstructing, the how-to's, the assembling- it's a cake I am not too eager to serve to guests and friends. My husband thought so too.

The taste was average. The cake was dry even if it was soaked with the liquor. The jams made the overall cake too sweet. It was like a "fake black forest cake in a MB style assemblage".

The only thing I like about it was the marshmallow-based filling and the crumbs so I am keeping the recipe of it. They were awesome tasting fillings! I will also keep this method-"my own method of making a MB style cake". It is like the "mass producing way of making a MB cake": by using semi-homemade ingredients. Maybe I would have to think better combinations of cake vs fillings and soaks to have it work. Getting good quality cake mix should work too.

I still recommend following Milk Bar's recipes for this kind of cake. There's a reason why it is done the way it is, why the recipe for each layer is the way it is. And that's because-amidst the strange and chaotic way it is prepared, the long wait before you can savor their cakes-there is actually ORDER and it really works perfectly fine.

Cake ring

Acetate sheet

A box of pizzelle

For the original Milk Bar cakes and recipes.
For the Milk Bar cookbook mentioned in this post.

Please message me if you have questions about the recipe or this post. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Mung beans. pork. shrimp. chili pepper leaves. (Smoky) Sauteed Mung Beans ( ginisang munggo )

This is just another post about a not so popular ingredient: "chili pepper leaves". Mung beans is a typical Asian ingredient both used for savory and sweet recipes.

It is a Filipino dish. History-unknown. My Ma seldom-if not-made it but the whole family eats it.

The first time (1980's) I saw this dish was being eaten by a childhood neighbor when he had 'utos' (chicken pox). I asked: "what's that you're eating?" It was the brothy, soupy kind. He said: "Ginisang munggo" (sauteed mung beans) while scooping and stirring it. He added it was good for someone with the chicken pox.

Maybe because legumes are nutritious? Maybe the chili pepper leaves is rich in anti-oxidants?

After that, I started eating ginisang munggo whenever I can get hold of it being sold by the neighborhood sari-sari (variety) store for lunch. Or when the nearest eatery where I went to school from high school to college was serving it for lunch too.

I loved it! I think it's the play of textures in my mouth, the mingling of flavors from the pork and shrimp. I also thought it made me proud eating chili pepper leaves-which is never spicy or hot. It's like eating chili-flavored spinach-that's how I can describe it.

I had chicken pox a few days before my 24th birthday. 


For the grilled pork.

Marinate for 1-2 hours a half pound of country style pork ribs (about 2 8 oz.) with 1/2 cup soy sauce, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 t cracked black pepper. 

Grill until slightly charred. Note: make sure the grill reached 400° before taking out the meat to rest on a plate. Usually I set the left side of the grill on high but cook the meat on the left side-which is turned off. Do not try eating if the internal temperature of the meat did not reach 155°. Set aside. When cooled, slice the pork into 1/2 inch cut (like half of your tongue-when sticking out; teehee).

For the mung bean stew   

1 cup mung beans
4 cups water
4 T neutral oil (canola, corn, coconut, light olive oil)
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 of a medium onion
1 tomato, quartered
6 large or jumbo frozen cooked shrimp, more for small or medium; thawed and drained.
1/2 compact cup fresh chili pepper leaves, washed and drained. If using frozen, thaw and lightly squeeze excess water.
Salt and pepper to taste
Extra water for brothy or soupy dish, if you wish (optional)


Boil the mung beans in a pot with 4 cups water. When it starts boiling, lower the heat to simmer uncovered until the beans had burst and the skin had fell off-about 1½ hours. Turn off heat and set aside.

Preheat a non-stick medium or large saute pan (with high sides) until smoky.
Add the oil and garlic to roast until golden brown.
Add the onion and saute for 1 minute before adding the sliced tomato.
Continue sauteing for 1 minute then add the sliced pork.
Toss and saute together with the rest of the ingredients in the pan.

Lower the heat to medium and slowly add the mung beans including the liquid plus the shrimp. Salt and pepper to taste. This is also the time to decide if you want this dish brothy/soupy or like a stew. Add water or not.

Simmer for 20 more minutes. Add the chili pepper leaves and turn off heat. Cover.

Ready after 15 minutes.

Enjoy with steamed rice or by itself.