Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Sariling atin: Filipino brown sugar-vanilla bread or "Kababayan"

'Kababayan' translates to "countryman" or "compatriot". No doubt this muffin should be called kababayan: it is a readily accessible snack found in any corner bakery-may it be a small local rural panaderia (bakery) or in a big, franchisee corporate bakeries in the big city. It's just like your trusted compatriot.

I grew up buying and eating these little guys. Great with a cup of extra hot, barako coffee with milk or soda and hot or iced tea. This is greatly enjoyed by itself instead of smothering them with frostings or glazes. But go ahead, dress them up with powdered sugar or streusel too!

Makes 12 cupcake size "Kababayan".



2 ½ c AP flour
1 c brown sugar
4 t baking powder
1/2 t salt


2 large eggs, room temperature

3/4 c fresh milk, at room temperature (If you do not have fresh milk, add 3 T of water to a measuring cup. Add evaporated milk to make 3/4 c)
4 t vanilla extract
3/4 c cooking oil (coconut or vegetable)

Optional: 2/3 c chopped nuts of choice


Lightly brush or rub cooking oil or melted butter to your cupcake pan. Set aside.

Mix the dry ingredients (first 4) in a large bowl. Set aside. In another bowl whisk the wet ingredients (last 4). Add wet ingredients ot the dry ingredients and stir well to a smooth consistency. (At least 45 seconds. Fold in chopped nuts-if using.

Set aside to rest for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, preheat oven to 450° F. While preheating: use a 1/2 measuring cup to scoop and pour the batter to the prepared cupcake pan. At least almost reaching the rim of each receptacle.

Place in the oven and immediately lower heat to 375° F. Bake for 15-25 minutes, depending upon your altitude. Check at 15 minutes: top should be domed and cracked, slightly brown and not squishy (it should bounce back.) If not, return to oven to achieve that goal.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Substitute for bakchoy (pechay): romaine lettuce

This can be eaten with rice alone or with a side of chicken or pork or any kind of seafood. Here, I used it as a 'bed' and side dish for "Tuna Rolled Potstickers".  The original recipe called for "bakchoy" (pechay). I used Romaine lettuce instead.

  Sauteed Romaine in garlic and onion (Ginisang romaine litsugas sa bawang at sibuyas)


1 bunch romaine
4 cloves garlic, minced
half of an onion
3 T cooking oil of choice
1/2 t salt 
Pinch of cracked black pepper
Low sodium soy sauce for dipping (optional) 


Wash romaine lettuce well. I usually soak it in water for 20 minutes. Remove excess water and chop in half crosswise. Exclude the 1inch bottom part of the plant (root). 

Preheat skillet or frying pan until smoky. Add cooking oil and garlic. Saute until light brown. Add onion and romaine, stirring and flipping leaves constantly for 1 minute or until oil and garlic has coated the leaves. Cover with a lid and cook on medium heat for 3 minutes. 

Uncover and season with salt and pepper. Stir and flip for 1 more minute then remove from heat. If you want it more wilted, cook for additional 2 minutes or until desired texture is achieved. 

Splash with soy sauce on or before serving.

Derivative 'bed' for chef John Sarran's "Ahi Tuna Pot Stickers" of Bubba's Diner of San Anselmo, CA.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Updated: Baked Siopao-aka toasted siopao, Naga City style.

Upadate: IMPORTANT NOTE. Pre-cook the filling (excluding the hard-boiled eggs) by sauteing it in 2 tablespoons of cooking oil for at least 10 to 15 minutes. Drain liquid and set aside and cool at room temperature before using as siopao filling.

People of  Naga City (Camarines Sur province, Philippines) and surrounding towns/provinces are lucky to have the "toasted siopao". These little guys originated there and I grew up on these suckers! The original culprit selling these were (and still are) Naga Restaurant and Naga Garden along General Luna St. and Panganiban Dr., respectively. I think they are related to each other as a family chain of business (Correct me if I am wrong, Naguenos!) and it's family-affiliated bakery but just in Naga City and Camarines Sur province. Any toasted siopao made by someone NOT from these family restaurant/bakery and being sold outside Naga City is a copycat and a sham. A charlatan!

They are so damn good that hamburgers pale in comparison: the texture and faint sweetness of the bun, the combination of aromas from the pork-onion-garlic would make the hamburger cringed with disgust over his envy of the toasted siopao. Enough of the rhetoric-let's get cooking!

Recipe. Makes 12-14 buns.


6 large eggs    

Wet ingredients:

3/4 c evaporated milk
1/4 c whole milk
1/2 c sugar
1 packet (7 grams) active dry yeast
1/4 c melted butter
2 large eggs


4 c all-purpose flour
1/2 t salt
1 t baking powder
1/2 c powdered skim milk

  1. Boil 8 large eggs on high for 20 minutes. Remove shells and refrigerate to chill.
  2. In a sauce pan or pot, whisk evaporated milk, whole milk and sugar over medium heat. When the milk mixture is warm (about 105-110° F), turn off heat and add yeast then whisk for 40 seconds. Add butter and eggs and whisk again until all ingredients are combined-another 40 seconds. Set aside.
  3. Change the electric mixer attachment from whisk to dough hook.
  4. In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon until well combined. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour wet ingredients in it.
  5. Using your electric mixer with dough hook attachment, mix the wet and dry ingredients until dough forms. If your electric mixer is not powerful enough, the mixing process will stop. Use your hands instead until you have a smooth dough.
  6. In the same bowl, leave the dough in it and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Make sure towel hangs on the rim/side of the bowl. Set aside in a warm place (at least 75°+ F) for 1 hour.

8 large hard-boiled eggs
1 lb cold ground pork
1/2 of an onion, finely chopped
1/2 t garlic powder or 2 cloves garlic finely chopped 
1 large egg
1 T cooking oil
1 T soy sauce
1 T hoisin sauce
1/4 t salt
1/4 t cracked black pepper

    1. In a bowl, mix well all the filling ingredients except hard-boiled eggs. Chill the filling in the refrigerator.
      2. Line a large baking tray (26 x 18) with parchment paper.
        3. After 1 hour, preheat oven to 300° F. Punch dough and transfer on a clean, dry work surface. Take out hard-boiled eggs and filling mixture from the refrigerator. Cut in two crosswise each hard-boiled egg. Set aside the eggs and filling.

          4. Roll the dough into a log (12" x 4"). Cut in 2; set aside the other half, covered with a dry kitchen towel

          5. Roll the other half to make another 12" long dough. Cut into 6 small dough that measures at least 3".
              6. Using a rolling pin or your palm, spread 1 small dough to make (at least) 8" flat dough. Add 2 t meat filling on the center of the flat dough and place half of a chilled hard-boiled egg with the cut side flat on the meat filling. Add another teaspoon of meat filling on top of the egg.

                7. Gather 2 sides of the dough to overlap each other. Gather the 2 other ends, press to seal then twist to make a little knot. Repeat procedure 5 with the remaining small dough. Place on the baking tray 2" apart.

                8. Bake first batch for 40-50 minutes or until light brown on top and the kitchen smells like grilled pork (😋).
                  9. Repeat procedures 5-7 to make the 2nd half of the big dough. Cover with a dry kitchen towel.
                    10. Bake 2nd batch on COOLED and lined (with parchment paper) baking tray. Do NOT use hot baking tray right away.
                      11. Transfer each batch on a cooling rack to cool for at least 15 minutes.

                      "One extra-large siopao, please!"

                      IMPORTANT NOTE: Pre-cook the filling (excluding the hard-boiled eggs) by sauteing it in 2 tablespoons of cooking oil for at least 10 to 15 minutes. Set aside and cool at room temperature. Drain liquid before using as siopao filling.

                      Saturday, January 6, 2018

                      jalapeno (cole)slaw atchara

                      Inspired by a "Jalapeno Slaw" as a side for fish and chips by a brewery-restaurant. They make this  Southwest-style coleslaw, sweet-(lime)sour, no mayonnaise and added with jalapeno for some hot attitude.

                      When I first had it-I thought it tasted 100% like Atchara: a Filipino sweet-sour-garlicy condiment made of green (unripened) papaya. So I thought I'll make Atchara with cabbage, sayote (chayote) and singkamas (jicama). No green papaya where I live and honestly, it's a good new idea to use other ingredients.

                      For MOST Filipinos, my version below of this condiment is a big no-no even if they haven't tried it before: and for some reason if they can not be convinced it's okay and that it actually works, my reaction would be: "It's the 21st century. Take it or I don't give a crap what you think!"

                      I wish I can say this is "inspired by my mom's recipe" or that "this is her recipe". This is not one of those stories but I wish she wrote down her own recipe for her (green papaya) atchara. Lately, when I call her overseas, she's too old and weak to remember any of the past let alone a recipe for something she used to make everyday for a year or two and sell as a sideline income. 

                      Makes 8 cups:



                      2 cups clear vinegar (preferably coconut water or apple cider)
                      1½ c granulated sugar
                      2" ginger; washed, peeled and thinly sliced
                      11 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed well
                      1 T whole peppercorns

                      Atchara-Jalapeno Coleslaw mix.

                      1 small cabbage, finely chopped = or at 6 cups
                      1 large chayote (sayote), finely shredded
                      1 large carrot, julienned
                      1 small jicama (singkamas), julienned = or at least 2/3 cup
                      1/2 c black raisins
                      1 large red bell pepper, cut into strips
                      1 red onion, remove skin and sliced lengthwise
                      3 green hot chili pepper, whole
                      2 t Iodized sea salt

                      1. Wash vegetables well (except garlic & onion). Let them sit in a sink or basin of cold water for at least 30 minutes. Rinse, drain and dry well.

                      2. Chop, grate or shred and slice vegetables accordingly. Set aside in individual containers/bowls. Make sure to drain any water sitting at the bottom of the each vegetable.

                      3. Let the first 5 ingredients boil in a medium sauce pot. When it starts to boil, lower heat to simmer for at least 20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool at room temperature.

                      4. Place all the prepared vegetables, raisins, red onion, hot green peppers and salt in a large mixing bowl. Combine well.

                      5. Pour the liquid mixture on the vegetable mixture. Mix well. Set aside and cover with a lid, plastic wrap or tin foil (anything airtight). Let it sit for 2 hours before transferring in an airtight jar or container. Refrigerate for 24 hours.

                      Enjoy as a condiment for your deep fried or grilled fish, chicken, pork, beef, etc. Great in a bun with meat or as a dressing for a salad!

                      Friday, January 5, 2018

                      Asian salad

                      Salad with atchara, honey mustard dressing-and some other good stuff! This is a regular in the house-for lunch or dinner. We eat it with or without chicken. If I don't have the atchara condiment, I just mix in finely chopped red cabbage and Napa cabbage, julienned or shredded carrot and chopped green onion.

                      Makes 2 plates:


                      3 T honey
                      1 t Dijon mustard
                      2 T rice vinegar
                      1/4 c mayonnaise
                      1/2 t soybean (vegetable) oil

                      Stir all ingredients in a small bowl; set aside.


                      3 frozen crunchy chicken breast fritters, cooked according to package instruction.
                      1/2 c jalapeno slaw atchara drain well, set aside.
                      3 cups chopped romaine, compact
                      4 T sliced almonds
                      4 T crunchy chow mein
                      Sliced avocado (optional)
                      1. Wash vegetables well, drain well.
                      2. Slice cooked chicken in diagonal pieces. Set aside.
                      3. Mix atchara and chopped romaine. Add enough or less of the dressing and mix. Using a salad tong or your hands, grab a handful of the veggie-dressing mix and place on your plate. Sprinkle with sliced almonds and crunchy chow mein. Topped with sliced chicken fritters. drizzle more or not with the dressing.
                      4. Repeat on the other plate.