Saturday, November 25, 2017

ube (purple sweet potato) cheesecake

I've never had Ube cheesecake before. 

By the time I came to the states, making this purple root crop (called "ube", pron. as ooh-beeh) into a cheesecake was not yet a reality in the Philippines. If it was-I guess it was only being made in posh hotel-restaurants in Manila-which I have no reason to visit or go unless I have to visit a dear girlfriend (a sister not from my mother or dad) from Laguna who likes good food and knows the ins and outs in Metro Manila (and with a hubby as a professional butcher in a 5 star hotel; he was also a choir-mate during our younger years! And that's how they met!).

But that never came about since I came to the states and they are both now in London 😞. 

Cream cheese is a new thing in the Philippines and just came about to be made or sold there early part of the 21st century. 

This is the first time I made ube cheesecake. I have made jewel, red yams and white sweet potato cheesecakes but not Ube (purple sweet potato or purple yams). 

Guess what? Here's the irony: Ube is THE NEW THING in the states. I'm even glad that it reached a grocery store where I live-a small desert town in the middle of nowhere. But that's the good thing of being close to California: the farming capital of the Western U.S.

Argh! This was one good idea to make for a purple root crop. No kidding!

Equipment/s you should have: 

12 x 12 Aluminum/tin foil
1-9" cheesecake pan or springform pan (photo courtesy:

1 round or square baking pan filled with just enough water to not boil over in the oven or 3 oven-safe coffee mugs filled with water.

Photo by:


For the crust: milk-free polvoron

1¾ c flour
1/2 c sugar
1/4 c unsalted butter
1/4 c margarine
1/4 t vanilla extract

Do at the same time: melt butter/margarine and toast flour.

Melt butter and margarine on low heat while toasting flour.

Toast the flour in a wok or large pan over medium heat, stirring constantly. Flour is 'toasted' when the flour 'weighs' like talcum powder. It should 'feel' dry and should smell like baked pie crust. The color looks "dirty white".

Remove from heat and continue stirring for 5 minutes. Set aside.

Remove melted butter from heat and add vanilla extract; stir to combine.

Add sugar to the flour and mix well. Add the liquid mixture into the flour mixture. Mix until well combined and not lumpy.

Set aside.

For the Filling:

2 medium sized ube (At least 4" long, 3" diameter. You should be able to have 1½-2 cups mashed purple yams.)

2, 8 oz cream cheese
1¼ c granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 c heavy cream
1/2 t salt
1 t ube extract (McCormick™ Philippines thru ebay™ or amazon™); optional

Bake the yams, prepare the batter:

Preheat oven to 350° F. wrap each ube with tin foil and place on a baking pan. Bake for 1½ hours.

Let it cool to room temperature inside the tin foil. When cooled, remove tin foil and peel skin; cube in fours or six.

Place ube cubes in a food processor and blitz until smooth. Remove canister from housing base (The on/off-motor part of your food processor.) and set it aside.

Transfer cream cheese in a large bowl. using a handheld or stand mixer, beat on low for 1 minute. Scrape sides. Add 1/4 c of sugar and beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Scrape. Repeat procedure were you add sugar and scrape 2 more times until all sugar are used and incorporated and cream cheese mixture is creamy.

Add the pureed ube and ube extract into the cream cheese mixture. Beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Scrape.

Add the 3 eggs into the mixture and beat for 1 minute. Scrape. Add the egg yolks and beat for 1 minute. Scrape.

Add the heavy cream, salt and ube extract (optional) beat for 1 minute. Set aside.

Water bath:

Place a round or square cake pan filled with water inside the oven (lowest rack). Or you can use 2 oven safe coffee mugs instead filled with water. Place on the middle rack, towards the back of the oven-away from the cheesecake.

Preheat oven to 325° F.

Prepare the cheesecake pan:

Lightly rub or brush with cooking oil or melted butter a 9" cheesecake pan or springform pan. You can use PAM also to grease the pan.

Wrap your cheesecake pan with aluminum/tin foil to secure the bottom.

Dump the loose polvoron into the greased pan and fill the center and sides of the pan with it. Use your fingers to equally distribute the polvoron. Use the bottom of a measuring cup or glass to flatten and smoothen the sides. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes

After 15 minutes, take out the crust from the freezer. Slightly beat the cheesecake batter then carefully pour it into the polvoron crust. Lightly tap to release air and flatten the batter.

Bake for 1.5 hours plus 15 minutes on the middle rack or above the water. Cheesecake is done when you shake it and jiggles slightly. If it jiggles too much then it's not done yet. The "plus 15 minutes" should do it but you never know; oven heat varies.

Cool completely at room temperature BEFORE refrigerating for 5-10 hours.


Eat by itself or serve with coconut-flavored ice cream or homemade whipped cream. You can also blow torch turbinado or muscovado sugar sprinkled on top.

Coffee pairing: black kapeng barako or coffea liberica.

Heavily inspired by THIS post.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Easy and simple Thanksgiving day centerpiece and tablescape

 I've had the reproduction of  "The Boating Party" by Auguste Renoir for years.  
Had it framed by a local Swiss-American professional framer.

  Jute charger: $2.99/each; Hobby Lobby. The only thing I spent money in this post. Tableware: NOT new.

   Artificial/fake Autumn bouquet: Hobby Lobby. Some I've had for years. A few stems and strands I just bought this week. It was 80% off.

  One of four vintage sewing machine box turned into a desk in the house. Cake stand, bowls and stemware: NOT new.

 The mini-kerosene lamps are real vintage from the collection of the hubby-bee.

DISCLAIMER: I am in NO WAY connected with Hobby Lobby or being paid to mention this business establishment. I have no idea if I know someone that works there. If I do, they are not paying me either for this post. Ta-ta!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

olive oil zucchini cocoa mini loaves with ricotta & crushed pistachio

I just have to buy 2 zucchini and a few ounces of pistachios (@the bulk section of the grocery store) to make this since I have all the other ingredients. The store brand ricotta cheese was on sale. They turned out to be like a bar of that Nestlé dark chocolate with pistachios in it called Damak®. The 3 cups of grated zucchini disappeared and the house smelled like an olive oil mill!

Next time I'll make a muffin out of it or a regular-sized loaf and with out the cocoa-per the "great white hunter's suggestion" (argh!). But he loved these little guys all the same.

They turned out to be fluffy, moist and scrumptious!


2 cups flour
3/4 c sugar
1/2 c dark cocoa
1 T baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 salt

2/3 c evoo
2 eggs
1/2 cup ricotta cheese (subs. with sour cream)
1/2 c milk
1 t almond extract

3 cups grated zucchini
1/2 cup crushed pistachio nuts


Use a mini-loaves pan for this recipe-if you have one. You can use a jumbo muffin pan or cupcake size pan. Or use a regular loaf pan. Baking times vary by shape and size of your baking pan/s.

Lightly brush/apply cooking oil or line with paper liners.

Squeeze out the liquid from the grated zucchini using a clean wet kitchen towel. Set aside.

Whisk first 6 (dry) ingredients in a large bowl. In another medium bowl, whisk olive oil, eggs, ricotta cheese, milk and almond extract.

Pour wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir to combine without over doing it. Fold in the grated zucchini. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400° F.

Fill each receptacle almost to the brim with the batter. Sprinkle with crushed pistachio nuts. Bake for 10 minutes under 400° F then lower to 375° F to continue baking for 15 minutes or until dry on top but springy soft. Do the toothpick test too all the way to the bottom of 1 loaf.

Cool to room temperature.


I you wish, drizzle with dulce de leche and chocolate sauce on the plate, pipe inside a mini loaf some chocolate ganache, place loaf on the sauces and top the loaf with a scoop or 2 with vanilla gelato and finish with a chocolate shell. And that is taking it to the next level!

I enjoyed mine as is.

Yup! Minus 1 there.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Filipino-flavors marinade and basting liquid for your Thanksgving Day turkey

UPDATE: I made a mistake for the grilling hours which is now corrected below to 1.5-2 hours. 

The print button is on the upper right corner of this post.

This is just a recipe for a Filipino-flavored marinade for turkey, chicken or pork; fish/shrimp. Ingredients heavily adapted from a recipe for "chicken inasal" (Filipino grilled chicken) by Chef Fernando Aracama of the LTB Chefs Association of the Philippines. 

If you plan to have a spatchcocked or butterflied turkey, have the butcher do it for you or your hubby or anybody you know who knows how to. If it's your butcher, bring it back to the meat department after it's been thawed. But I am not sure if you're allowed to do that considering the cross- contamination. Therefore, buy a turkey that's already been thawed or NOT frozen yet and have it cut up right there and then.

Make sure your butcher will cut from the backbone instead of the breastbone. I just read a funny story of a butcher cutting up the turkey backwards 😆😜

I did it the hard way using a couple of heavy duty shears from my husband's tool box! I can't use ordinary kitchen shears: have small hands so I used a metal snip and garden shears 😁 Below photos were the final result!

NOTE: read/write down cooking instructions before taking out the turkey from the packaging. The moment your turkey is out, you're going to have a hard time reading it because the packaging shrinks!


1 turkey (10-15 lbs)
3 bunches lemongrass, chop only the white part
1 cup annatto seeds
2/3 c cooking oil (pref. corn, canola or olive oil)
1 bulb garlic
3 T cracked black pepper
1 c brown sugar
3" ginger, peeled and chopped

2/3 c vinegar
1¼ c soy sauce
3 T sea salt

Smash and chop white part of lemongrass. Peel, smash and chop garlic. In a medium bowl, whisk cooking oil, annatto seeds, lemongrass, garlic, ginger, black pepper and brown sugar and set aside  for 1 hour.

Pour oil/spices/brown sugar mixture over the turkey. With your hands, 'bathe' and rub oil all over and inside the turkey. When you are satisfied that the oil mixture has been applied well on the bird, cover with plastic wrap or tin foil and refrigerate overnight or until ready to cook.

Combine soy sauce, vinegar and sea salt. Set aside. You will use this mixture for basting, when the turkey is ready to be grilled /roasted. You will use this 3 times.

To roast whole turkey in the oven: follow turkey packaging instructions on heat temperature. But before throwing it in the oven, baste or brush the turkey with the soy-vinegar-salt mixture.

Do the same if your turkey is butterflied/spatchcocked.

To grill/smoke your turkey: Preheat grill to 500° F. Turn grill control to the lowest setting and throw in the bird to smoke for 1.5-2 hours-depending upon the size/weight of your bird. Your grill will stay 300° F without burning the bottom side of the bird. Don't forget to liberally line your grill with a tin foil and brush with cooking oil. This turned out to be crispy outside and moist inside.

Either cooking the turkey in the oven or grill, BASTE or brush with the basting mixture halfway through and 30 minutes before taking it out.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

(kosher) Ambrosia salad for Tday: fool-proof/tried and tested.

Recipe heavily adapted from the OU (Orthodox Union) website. You can substitute the ingredients for non-kosher items just what I did.

If you like deli-style ambrosia and you want this at your table on Thanksgiving day, this is your go to recipe-hands down!

Makes 6 cups.


2 small cans of mandarin oranges, drained
1 (16-oz.) can crushed pineapple, drained
1 small jar maraschino cherries
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1 cup shredded coconut (optional)
3 cups miniature [kosher] marshmallows
3 cups of whipped cream [or pareve dessert topping]
⅓ cup of mayonnaise
1 (8 oz.) package of cream cheese [or pareve substitute], softened
¼ cup confectioner's sugar


Combine the whipped cream or whipped topping, mayonnaise, cream cheese, and sugar in a large bowl.
Beat until thoroughly blended.
Drain and chop the maraschino cherries.
Stir in the rest of the ingredients.
Chill at least two hours before serving.
Serve on a bed of lettuce. (Optional)

no cook, fresh cranberry sauce: for keeps

Anthony Bourdain's fresh, uncooked Cranberry Relish:

12 oz cranberries
1 large orange and all (remove seeds)
1 cup granulated sugar (I added 2 tablespoons of sugar.)

Blitz in a food processor until sauce consistency. Refrigerate overnight, 6-12 hours.

For keeps recipe for cranberry sauce!