Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Take Time To Love

Oh my, it's been 10 days since my last entry.  I took time off to be with my daughter last week, so I really didn't have the time to sit down and write.  I had a long list of entries to finish and what jumped out was my note written in red bold letters: "EATING YOUR WORDS CHALLENGE, DEADLINE: March 30" (I found out later that the deadline is actually on the 31st)... "think, create, inspire..." were inscribed on the same note.

For some reason, I haven't had any inspiration for this challenge. I tried to put myself into the shoes of Top Chef contestants, but alas no luck.  I would be sent home after the first quick fire challenge, hahaha.  So I skipped the task and moved on to the next.

I was staring at the blank screen of my computer monitor when a message flashed:

What's wrong with Joey? said the YM on the screen. The message came from my daughter who is now back in Berkeley.

Why? What do you mean what's wrong with Joey came my reply.

It's his status on Google buzz.  He sounds sad.

As I was waiting for her response, my thoughts ran wild as to what's going on with my son.  But at the same time, I was glad my daughter is so nosey she knows what's going on with everyone. Then on my screen was Joey's status:

"Sometimes it takes a deeply saddening piece of news for you to recognize the truly important things in life, and to remind you not to get too caught up in the less significant parts."

After reading it, I realized it was all about the tragic news involving his friend's mom.  We talked about it the night before, but I was unaware it affected him so much.   I believe that in times like this, the best way to cheer him up is to give him reassurance and to embrace him with love... I immediately came up with a plan to make him feel secure and feel loved...

A spark of inspiration came to mind.   I jumped off my seat and went to my art lab (a.k.a. kitchen). Why don't I convey the message through food, with my words of comfort written all over the food.  That a-ha moment led me to enter this post for the "Eating Your Words Challenge".  This contest is hosted by Tangled Noodle and Savor the Thyme.  What's more exciting is that celebrity host Andrew Zimmern will be the judge for the challenge.  Wish me luck!

Burger Outside the Box

For the bun:
I wanted to take it to the extreme (it's Andrew Zimmern who's judging guys!)  so I used white rice to form a bun
Cooked white rice
Garlic Salt
small egg, slightly beaten
1 tbsp oil

For the burger patty
I used Asian ingredients.
2 lbs ground beef
2 tbsp hosin sauce
2 tbsp oyster sauce
3 cloves garlic
1/2 onion chopped
1 egg
salt and pepper

For the garnishings:
Bokchoy, blanched and drained
Boiled egg
Sesame Seeds, toasted
Edamame, blanched and drained


For the rice bun:

Put the cooked rice into a mixing bowl add the slightly beaten egg. Mix them together and sprinkle some garlic powder on it. Get a measuring cup. Press the rice mixture to get the shape of a bun.  You have to press it hard and make sure they stick together for easy frying. In a saucepan, add a little oil and pan fry the rice.  Do it on the other side as well.  Be gentle as the rice may break. Set aside.

For the burger:

Mix the ground beef and all the ingredients such as oyster sauce, hosin, garlic, onions and salt and pepper.  Gently mix them together.  Make sure not to over mix the beef.  And also I used a not so lean ground beef. I want my burger to be flavorful and juicy.
Now we’re ready to form our patties. Grab a chunk of  beef and gently form a patty. This recipe yielded 6 patties.  Pre-heat a cast iron pan on high heat. Add patties and cook it for about 2- 3 minutes per side. Sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds on top. Let it rest.

Now we're ready to assemble the burger and this is where the fun begins.

Here's the top rice bun. I used green onions and carrots to spell the word TAKE. I used hoisin sauce initially but as  you could see it smeared the letters and they were no longer readable.

Here's the lower rice bun:  I used edamame and dotted hoisin sauce for the numbers and green onions for the short and long hand to make a clock to signify TIME.

Here are the condiments:  I was just limited to what was in my fridge, so I used bok-choy, carrots and boiled some eggs to form the word TO

And here's the patty. I sprinkled sesame seeds and formed a shape of a heart using edamame to signify LOVE...

Typically a burger looks like this:

But since this is my entry for the Eating Your Words Challenge I plated it like so

To convey my message that we should:  TAKE TIME TO LOVE.....

Saturday, March 20, 2010

choco coco loco in spring

My husband and I were so excited as we sped along I-5 to pick up our daughter at the airport.  We are happy that she decided to spend Spring Break with us.  I also couldn't help notice the vibrant yellow rays shining from the sun against the backdrop of a clear blue sky. It's officially the first day of Spring.

Blaring on the radio was the song Breakeven by the Script.

"This is by the Script, the group that orignally sung 'Live Like You're Dying' " my husband said.

"Oh no wonder it sounds like the Kris Allen song", I said. "Oh yeah, the arrangement is totally similar" I said further.

While the song was playing, I tried to mix the Live Like your Dying lyrics with it and we laughed out loud because it blended so well.  I-5 South twisted and rolled toward the searing sun, as my husband gripped the wheel with both hands, then suddenly releasing the other hand to hold mine. I was still singing my heart out, and I was seemingly just lost in the moment.  If we were not on our way to pick up our daughter, who is already 21, I would have thought that my husband and I were still just college sweethearts!

At the airport's curb, my daughter was grinning from ear to ear, donning her new oval rimmed, oversized sun glasses, as she waved hello to us.  As she settled into the car, we could not pull out of the arrivals section.  We were apparently trapped by a car in front of us, because the young lady driver was out there tiptoeing to kiss her boyfriend... while the boyfriend carried her up close to him...  The three of us in the car didn't mind at all... knowing how it feels what Spring could bring...

From the moment my daughter came into the car, she started telling stories.  I thought I was the chirpiest person but wait until you hear my daughter.  It was non-stop.  We had to turn off the radio for her to have our full attention! We had missed her animate garrulousness.

"Mom I have pasalubong (homecoming present) for you!" she said as soon as we got home. She showed me a box of my favorite Girl Scout Cookies: Samoas.

  "I know you love Almond Joy and desserts with chocolate and coconut, so I got you these." As we started eating these delicious treats, my daughter exclaimed, "Remember when Dad used to bring home pan de coco and chocolate milk for me when I was a little kid, Mom?" 

Smiling, I nodded my head and quickly began to reminisce. When my husband would come home from medical school, he would always have a bag full of pan de coco (which literally translates to "bread of coconut") and Chocolait (chocolate milk) in a tetrapack for my daughter, who was only a toddler back then. It was my husband's special way of letting my daughter know that he was home.

"Wow, that was like a lifetime away!" I laughed. Indeed, I remember how she loved eating those little coconut-stuffed rolls and how she would even love it more when she could dip it in her glass of chocolate milk. And now, a decade and a half later, she's the one bringing us a simple gift of sweetness to let us know that she was home! Life seems to have come full circle.

I told her, "That was my inspiration for my Choco Coco Loco," and I handed her a tray of my newest concoction.

She bit into this desert empanada and immediately her eyes grew wide with amazement. "Oh, these are better than the Samoas, Mom! How did you do it?"

I grinned even wider than before. That's when I knew that I had to share with you my CHOCO COCO LOCO EMPANADAS.

(When Kulinarya announced that we were to feature empanadas for the month of March, I thought of making a sweet empanada... That's when I thought about my daughter's memories of the pan de coco with chocolait that my husband used to bring home for her.  Pan de coco is a bun stuffed with coconut... so that's where I got the inspiration from.)

Choco Coco Loco Emapanadas:


For the Filling:
1/2 cup condensed milk
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 cup dessicated coconut
1 tsp vanilla
1tbsp cornstarch dispersed in water

In a saucepan, mix the condensed milk and coconut milk.  Let it simmer.  Add the vanilla and the constarch mixture.  Stir in the dessicated coconut.  Let it cool.

For the crust:
2 cups  all purpose flour
1 pc egg
1 stick cold unsalted butter
1/3 cup ice water
1 tsp baking powder

Put the flour into a large bowl.  Dig a hole in the mound of flour.  Add butter, water, and egg blend in using your fingertips  or a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse meal with some (roughly pea-size) butter lumps.

Turn the mixture onto a lightly floured surface and gather together, then knead gently with heel of your hand  to bring dough together. Lightly flour a pastry board or clean table top. Using a rolling pin, roll out dough on a pastry board until  desired thickness. I wanted mine to be a little thick.  Get a saucer and use it as a template to cut circles using a cutter or a sharp knife.

Preheat oven to 400 degreesF
Spoon about 1-2 teaspoons of the coconut filling and put it  into the middle of each pastry circle. Fold the circle so the edges meet and filling is sealed. Press the edges of the pastry  using a fork.

Brush the surface of each empanada with slightly beaten egg.. Using a fork or a sharp knife, make slits on the surface of each empanada.   Arrange on a greased baking sheet and bake it for about 20 minutes or until light golden brown. Let it cool.

For the ganache:
8 ounces of chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1 stick of butter

Place chocolate pieces in a large bowl on a baine marie.  Stir continously.  Add butter and stir again. Remove from heat.  Adjust according to your preferred thickness. Allow ganache to cool before pouring over  the empanadas.Enjoy!


Kulinarya was started by a group of Filipino foodies living in Sydney, who are passionate about the Filipino culture and its colourful cuisine. Each month we will showcase a new dish along with their family recipes. By sharing these recipes, we hope you find the same passion and love for Filipino Food as we do.
If you’re interested in joining our Kulinarya Cooking Club, please feel free to drop by our foodblogs and leave a comment – we would love to hear from you!


Monday, March 15, 2010

one fine san diego day

One of the remarkable traits that my parents-in-law have is their zest for life.  Last Thursday, just as the sun had risen, they called informing us that they were driving to San Diego from Las Vegas. “You're on your way here?” I heard my husband saying. A few hours after, they called and said “We’re in Barstow and we’ll be there soon!” said the chirpy voice of my mother in law. True enough, before we knew it, we heard Mama B’s warm “Hello!!! How’s everybody!” by the door.

Papa T and Mama B brought spring early to us. The house magically turned alive as my children joined in to devour all the food that they brought with them. From the shimmering gold and yellow color of the custard flan, to the strong scent of lemon grass and the greens that go with Pho, and to the grilled pork chop releasing an earthy flavor -- we enjoyed immensely the feast they brought to us. Everything turned warmer and brighter with their arrival.

The next day, while my husband was at work and the kids were at school, Papa T, Mama B and I drove around San Diego to try out his camera's new lens. Contently, I watched them from the rear end of the car, Mama B singing along Celine Dion's Because You Loved Me  on Sirius satellite radio and Papa T driving around the canyons in search of views to capture.  I was sitting alone at the back, quitely absorbing and basking in the strength and beauty of their relationship.  My in-laws have shown me how to look at the world in a new way.  A world full of optimism and hope, that when I get older I should look forward to the days to come, as these days will get even better.  I was there happy to look through a window into the future, wishful that in 20 years, my husband and I would enjoy the life that my in-laws currently have.

I've talked about them in this blog previuosly, here and there. With Papa T's permission, I am sharing the pictures he captured.   The sights are undeniably San Diego to me:  the sight of a Navy helicopter hovering the sky, the surfer riding the waves during winter, the breathtaking seascape of Torrey Pines in La Jolla that greets me as I drive down highway 101... ahhh indeed, such a fine San Diego day.  And I get to enjoy the experience twice... the second time through Papa T's lens.  Thank you also for letting me see life through a new view, like that of a new lens of a camera, able to capture the essence of the moment... and letting me get a glimpse of the future.


With this inspiration and since it's the Lenten Season,  I made Fish Lumpia... (well  I had a difficulty finding a segway to introduce the recipe LOL!)  But ok I promise this lumpia is so easy to make:


Catfish fillet (or any white fish fillet)
Lumpia Wrapper (spring roll wrapper)
Calamansi - zest and juice
salt and pepper

2 tbsp Hoisin Sauce
2 tbsp Oyster Sauce
1Tbsp Soy Sauce
sesame oil
sesame seeds
2 tbsp calamansi or lemon juice
green onions


Slice the fillet into strips
Season with calamansi or lemon juice, salt and pepper Add some calamansi rind or zest.
Wrap the fillet using lumpia wrapper
Fry the lumpia in a pan until golden brown.  Set aside.

For the sauce:
Combine all the  ingredients together except for the sesame seeds.  Let it thicken.  Adjust according to your taste. You are now ready to enjoy your fish lumpia! See it was that easy!

I went one step higher... and added the sauce on the lumpia.  However, you should eat the lumpia right away it will become soggy.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

hmm the oscars or kpbs?

Last Sunday, I kept switching channels (and hooray for DVR!) between The Oscars and the local public television station, KPBS. Why the PBS station on the night of the Oscars, you might wonder? Oh well it's because my son was on TV! Ok, it wasn't really a TV appearance or performance like American Idol, but my son volunteered to answer phone calls on KPBS. His face, together with the other volunteers', was flashed on TV... Nonetheless it's still TV, which got our family excited that Sunday night, while everyone else we know watched the Academy Awards.

"Don't forget to watch me on TV" he said on his way out.

"It's Oscar night, are you kidding me?" said my daughter in jest.

Funny how his role was just sitting in the background and yet it brought a bigger thrill than seeing Penelope Cruz walk down the stage in a crimson Donna Karan gown. He didn't have any speaking line that was audible (he was answering the calls remember) but every time we see him open his mouth, we laugh just as the way we laughed at Alec Baldwin's punch lines. He didn't walk the red carpet but yes, we gave him a 10 for choosing a pinstriped long sleeve shirt to look the role of “business casual" required of the volunteers for the show.

My husband looked at me expecting me to cry just as I would cry in episodes of Undercover Boss, but a-ha, I didn’t cry. Instead, I just looked into the wide-screen TV with Joey there, I was mesmerized. Yes, I'm simply amazed at how time flies, my son all of 17 years looks so grown up... there he was JOEY! At his young age he organizes and volunteers for various civic-oriented activities similar to this one. He genuinely cares about the community. For me, he is my American Idol.

And the OSCAR goes to... Ooops, I missed it because just when I was about to enjoy both shows, my husband asked "What's for dinner?".

Quickly I ran to the kitchen and hmmm I thought hard... with the TV beckoning, I thought of ordering take out, but heck no. I thought I could prep something on the fly... hmmm IMPROMPTU (IMPROMPTU DIVA used to be the name of my blog and I think I miss being called the IMPROMPTU DIVA, hahaha). As I was tying my apron strings, I thought about my cooking templates for quick meals. I usually have a template: if it's Italian - it's spaghetti, if it's korean - it's bulgogi, but I was in Filipino food mode, so my Filipino default dish for easy cooking calls for... adobo!

But I didn't want to have just plain adobo, so I added a twist. Luckily, I saw the POM wonderful drink (pomegranate juice) in the fridge. By the way, let me digress a bit, I just want to thank the wonderful people at POM WONDERFUL for sending me a package of 12 bottles of their 100% pomegranate juice. I was so excited to receive my first package ever sent to SKIP TO MALOU! I just received a dozen chilled bottles and before it reached the fridge, the four of us chugged four bottles down instantly… like it was a drinking challenge! Phew that was good! I never tasted pomegranate before so it was all new to me. I like the tart taste, which reminded me of cranberry. I always wanted to try it when it first hit the shelves at the grocery store. The packaging is also novel, and with the shape of the clear bottle, it accentuates the rich red color.

So going back to my impromptu take on the adobo Oscars Sunday, the Oscar goes to: the POM GLAZED ADOBO.

Here's how:

1 cup POM 100% pomegranate juice
1/4 cup soy sauce
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 crushed bay leaves
3/4 c sugar

In a saucepan mix all the wet ingredients and garlic together. Let it simmer. Add black pepper and crushed bay leaves. Allow the ingredients to fuse in together for a couple of minutes, then add the pork. Cook for about 30 to 40 minutes or until the pork is cooked. It's that simple... then you're ready to enjoy your pom glazed adobo....

For plating, I blanched some okra to make an okra bed. Since it was Oscar's night, I made an okra star shaped bed... and voila:

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

... and the winners are

Thank you everyone for entering  my Calamansi Giveaway. If only I had more, I would like to share it to everyone.. But since I have a limited supply, I decided to give it to 2 readers... and with  the winners are ... tantararan (cymbals clash) :

Tangled Noodle and Rachel of  Coconut and Lime. Yay! Congratulations!!!

TN and Rachel, I hope you will enjoy the calamansi as much as I do... and to everyone, thank you for all the love and support.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


I got an A-HA moment when I read  Tangled Noodle 's latest post Eu Sau Brasilipino.  She mentioned that she can't find calamansi in Minneapolis and here I was having a grand time having a bilao (a woven tray) of this uniquely Southeast Asian citrus fruit.
For all of you who are wondering what calamansi is, here's a picture

I 'm sure you could find a lot of information about this fruit online.  But for Filipinos, we use calamansi in a variety of ways, including: to make a refreshing juice that multi-level marketers can only dream of, as a condiment to mix with soy sauce and sili (fresh peppers) - especially for inihaw na pusit (grilled squid) and barbecue na liempo (grilled pork belly), or to marinate meats and seafood.  It's really hard for me to find calamansi here in the US, except when I moved here to SoCal. 

Yesterday, I called up my friend Angie to ask her how she was doing.  I met Angie in a most unusual way.   I interviewed her for a position and the interview turned into a long conversation, and we became instant friends.  Although we were not able to work together, our friendship continued.  She has become my confidant, my cheer leader and she keeps me grounded spiritually.  I haven't seen nor talked to her in awhile, so I thought of giving her a call. 

As soon as I said hello, she said: "I'm picking some calamansi from my tree, would you like some?"  Upon hearing calamansi, I went to her house pronto!  When I arrived at her house, she welcomed me with this:

I was surprised at how much she was giving me. I've never seen this much calamansi since I was in the Philippines.  What will I do wth all these calamansi?  I thought about making calamansi (in-lieu of lemon) squares, calamansi juice, add calamansi to almost everything... but when I read Tangled Noodles' post, I changed my mind...I'll give it away to someone I've connected with, hoping to introduce this citrus in their cooking, and in the hopes of starting a friendship similar to what I have developed with Angie.  Tangled Noodle also mentioned that a lot of you are curious about this citrus, so I thought of sharing Angie's harvest with  you.  

So here's how to enter: 

Please leave a comment on how you intend to use the calamansi.

That counts as one entry, you can increase your chances by:

1. Becoming a follower of Skip to Malou.  If you already follow me, let me know by saying so.  (Counts as another entry)

2. Tweet about this giveaway.  You could tweet as often as you want and enter your link everytime you do so.  Plus one entry for each tweet.

3. Become a follower on Twitter.  Plus one entry (for new followers only).

This giveaway is open to US residents only (sorry!).  Entries will be no longer be accepted after 12pm PST on Monday, March 8.  I will use to pick a winner... Good luck everyone!

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