Wednesday, October 26, 2016

How to roast pumpkin and other large, uneven shaped vegetables (pumpkin and squash, etc.)

Let's face it: pumpkins, squash and other large vegetables are always hard and has thick skin to peel when raw/uncooked especially when you just want the flesh to eat straight or need it for another recipe.

If you're fastidious about your pumpkin or squash being roasted unevenly and siting in the oven on a lopsided manner because of it's uneven, irregular shape and they won't stay flat and and you have a pyrex™ salad bowl or coffee cup-then your problem has just been solved: any OVEN-PROOF/heat-proof vessel will do.

A wok ring or any metal ring smaller than the vegetable works too!

It's very important that the container you have are slightly smaller than the pumpkin/squash. The idea is to have something to cradle it inside the oven and the heat evenly roasts the vegetable without the brown sugar, butter, etc spilling over the pan.

Don't forget to put at least a quarter or half of hot (NOT boiling) water in the bowl or mug.

So there you go: the most easiest way to get these vegetables in your mouth to your belly. If you just wanted the flesh : NO PEELING, NO CHOPPING required to make it into smaller pieces (you do that after you roast it). Just wash and cut in half then oil and season.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

cafe-style pumpkin muffins with rolled oats and pumpkin seeds

Pre-note: to skip my rant, the "print" button/link is always on the top, right side of the blog. Don't forget to click the "remove images" if you don't want to include the photos.


These are called "Rachel's pumpkin muffins" by the famous "Cafe Beaujolais" of  Mendocino city, CA. (No, I haven't been to that place. ) Since it's pumpkin season-I might as well jump on the bandwagon of food bloggers cooking and talking about "pumpkin" (But I really don't have to.)

I adapted the recipe from the cookbook (I bought in a garage sale!) but tweaked it a little bit by adding 1/4 c more of oil as Margaret Fox, the author, said "this was kinda dense".  I think due to that fact that it has more than 2 cups of flour. The recipe says "corn oil" but I used a cooking oil blend since that was what I had.

I wondered if she meant that it looks (and feels in the mouth) like a pound cake gone wrong that  when you slice a piece, both sides are smooth and partly uncooked (you know what I'm saying?) which meant it did not have enough baking soda or powder. Anyway, I went ahead and add that extra oil (optional) as if I know what I'm doing (tahaha). I also decorated these muffins by topping them with rolled oats and sunflower seeds-just because.

By the way, I also changed the way it was baked: instead of baking it at 350°, these muffins were baked at 400°. I just thought having 2 teaspoons of baking soda, these muffins need to 'rise' to its potential hence a really good hot oven will do it's job for the first 10 minutes.

They turned out pretty, pretty good!

Makes 12 muffins (NOT cupcake size)


2 cups brown sugar
1 cup canola/vegetable/sunflower blend oil plus 1/4 c
4 eggs slightly beaten
1 can pumpkin puree
3 1/2 cups flour
2 t baking soda
1 t salt
1 t baking powder
1 t nutmeg
1 t allspice
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t powdered cloves
2/3 cup water
1/2 c chopped walnuts
1/2 c raisins
1/4 cup rolled oats (optional)
1/8 cup sunflower seeds (optional)


Preheat oven to 400° F. Line muffin pan with muffin cups or brush pan with oil and sprinkle each cavity with flour. Tap off flour, set aside.

Mix together sugar, oil, eggs and pumpkin. Set aside. In another bowl, sift together all dry ingredients, and add, a little at a time alternating with water to the pumpkin mixture. Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, combine after each addition. Do not overmix. Stir in walnuts and raisins. Do not overmix.

Fill cups 2/3 full. Bake for 10 minutes at 400° then lower oven heat to 375° and continue baking for 17-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted all the way to the bottom of a muffin comes out clean.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Updated: Grocery-style Tocino. Tosino

I miss tocino (Yeah, it's supposed to be spelled with a "c" instead of "s".). It's cured meat Filipino-style. Well actually it's a Spanish word for "bacon". Tocino is also a typical accompaniment in  Caribbean dishes as well.

What makes it apart from all the other cured pork in the world? The sugar, garlic and anisette (anise-flavored liquor) creates a wonderful explosion of flavors in your mouth that makes you want to eat more and then that's your meal for the day. You won't even crave for junk food or snacks in between meals. That is if you eat this for breakfast or lunch.

Tocino can be eaten for dinner too but preferably breakfast.

I've used this recipe several times on chicken, pork, veal and lamb. I'm using pork again today. Word of advice: this has pure food-grade phosphate I bought on eBay but optional for you.

It's supposed to make the meat firm when raw but tender (and still firm) when cooked. If you have no way of buying  phosphate online, check your local health food store if they sell calcium phosphate in the highest mg. Pound and grind into fine powder and use as substitute.  For vitamin C called for in the recipe, if you have pure Vitamin C (w/o rose hips please) from 500-1000 mg in your medicine cabinet, use it; also pound and grind in to fine powder.

No anisette? Don't you think it's time to buy a bottle just for making your own mass-produced tocino? However, I am actually testing an anisette substitute recipe. I will post it as soon as I am done testing it as I know some of you would like a non-alcohol based anisette substitute.

Typically, tocino is RED of food dye/color. I omitted that altogether. Isn't that great?

I heard dried plum can be a substitute for phosphate. I will have to try that out next time.




2.20 lbs or 1 kg pork tenderloin or pork belly
2 T kosher sea salt (regular salt is okay)
1/2 teaspoon curing pink salt also called Prague powder
12 T light brown sugar (granulated white is okay)
1 teaspoon phosphate dissolve in 1/4 cup water
2 T Anisette
2 T pineapple juice (optional)
2 T finely chopped garlic
1/4 teaspoon vitamin C
1/2 teaspoon MSG (optional)


1. Pat dry the pork and place in a large non-porous bowl/container preferably glass, metal or hard plastic; set aside. 

2. Mix all the dry ingredients and set aside.

3. In another bowl, mix all the liquid ingredients.

4. Cut up the pork to bite size pieces or at least 1/4 inch thick, 2" long.

4. Carefully pour the wet ingredients on the meat and mix using your hands. Follow through the dry ingredients and combine well with hands.

5. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 12-48 hours.

Note: after 6 hours, you can decide to freeze the remaining tocino that you will not cook. Use a freezer bag. For this recipe, I freeze 1 lb of the tocino to be used some other time.

How to cook:

for 1 lb of cured tosino, use a large pot or saute pan. measure 1 cup of water and pour over the cured meat in the pot. Add 3 T of cooking oil preferabley corn oil, coconut oil or vegetable oil.

bring to a boil on high then lower heat to medium high. continue boiling for at least 10 minutes

bring heat to low and cover to simmer for 15 minutes.

Uncover and bring heat to high; continue stirring to let the water evaporate and coat the meat with the fond (caramelized bits of meat sticking to the pan after browning).

Fry in the rendered fat, oil that remains in the pot for 2 minutes; remove from heat.

Best enjoyed with a side of steamed rice OR garlic fried rice and sunny-side up eggs, over easy OR over  medium.

Thanks for reading!

Inspired by a recipe by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority for Women Center (TESDA), Philippines.


Update: I apologize. When I get excited sharing a recipe, I just ram the keyboard and type my brains out forgetting some ingredients or even a step in the procedure. Really sorry.

I totally left out on previous recipe the most important ingredient which is the "curing salt" or "pink salt"; also called "Prague powder". It should NOT be confused to the "Himalayan pink rock salt".

The purpose of Prague powder is to kill micro-organisms or delay microbial action. I bought the Prague powder online. If you live in a big city with easy access to independent butcher shops, then just give them a visit and check if you can buy or even ask for just a tablespoon of it-for FREE!

I also forgot what part of pork you need to use. This has now been updated above.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Oatmeal Muffins with Cranberries, Dates, and Walnuts

I have exactly the ingredients to make my own recipe for a muffin like below except the raisins so I used dried sweetened cranberries and just followed another food bloggers recipe instead.

This has cinnamon and buttermilk too. Read more here.

Hubby said it's the best oatmeal cookie he's had-in a quick bread form. (Teehee!)

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Substitute for ripe Jackfruit (langka or nangka) and how to make purple yam bilo-bilo

“Improvise, Adapt and Overcome!”

I always remember those words from the octogenarian actor Clint Eastwood in his movie "Heartbreak Ridge"; seen the movie a hundred times-go figure!

So obviously you need ripe Jackfruit (lahng-kah or nahng-kah) because you are making Ginataan with Bilo-bilo (glutinous rice balls) or some kind of a dessert but you don't have this particular fruit/ingredient-AT ALL.

FYI, Bili-bilo is a glutinous rice flour dumpling. Ghee-nah-tah-ahn is a snack or dessert made of Okinawan red skin sweet potato with yellow, very sweet meat; chunks of cassava/yucca/manioc, ripe but firm plantain and cooked in coconut milk with sago or tapioca pearls sugar and vanilla extract.)

If that's the case, substitute with:

dried ripe jackfruit
canned or preserved jackfruit in syrup, drained
ripe guava, peeled and remove seed
canned ripe guava in syrup, remove seeds/drain
fresh very ripe pineapple
pineapple chunks in syrup, drained
dried, ripe pineapple

Canned ripe Guava and Pineapple (I used both) worked well in my ginataan. They were the perfect alternative!

Ube Bilo-bilo (purple yam sweet dumplings)

1 cup cooked and mashed ube
1/4 c plus 1 T glutinous rice flour
3 T sugar
1 t neutral oil
3-5 T water

In a medium bowl, mix together mashed ube and half of the rice flour; add the sugar and oil and continue mixing. Throw in all the remaining ingredients but slowly add all the water-checking if it's too wet or dry. If you try to make a 1" ball-there should be a thin layer that should remain on your fingers/palm (like velvet) but it should NOT be gluey.

Knead for a minute then form into 1" balls; place in a container with lid on. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Steam to eat by itself, rolled on grated coconut or use in the Ginataang Bilo-bilo.

NOTE: You do not need to steam or cook the ube dumplings before using them in your ginataan. Just drop them 15 minutes before you remove your ginataan from heat.