Friday, April 29, 2011

how to say I'm sorry...

Let's face it, being in a relationship can be great but may not always be blissful. There are  days when you don't agree with each other, you’re not on the same page or may even have offended the other, you get my drift? Oh yes, as John Gray properly puts it, "Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus".

So how do you say you're sorry?

Well I guess it differs from one relationship to another, from one person to the next. I know when my hubby is upset with me. But instead of worrying about what to say or how to say I'm sorry, I let my food do the work for me. You know the saying "the way to a man's heart is through his stomach”, I take this literally. I prepare a sumptuous dish, or even just an appetizer, and I am confident I can get my hubby to forget what he was upset about - it's a done deal.  I am not a psychologist but trust me, after being married for more than 20 years, I have mastered this trick... and remember this only works when you are the one who is saying I'm sorry... if it was his fault, then ...err ahh… that's a different story. Perhaps a blue box could appease you?  hint, hint.  

Next time you need to say I'm sorry, try to make this appetizer and let me know if the magic works for you too.

Bacon Strapped Halibut

I got the inspiration of this recipe online. Actually some recipes called for prosciutto, while others had bacon.  So I selected bacon and this is my take.

2 lbs. halibut cubed
1 pack bacon
lemon zest
fresh basil leaves


Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.
Season halibut with lemon, salt, pepper and zest.  Wrap each cube with basil and bacon.  Secure with a toothpick.
Bake for about ten minutes.  Put on broil for another five minutes, to give get that crunchy bacon.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

banana wrapped sticky rice flour (binallay)

I took a week off from blogging because it's Holy Week... not that my religion does not allow me to do anything on the bloggosphere, but it was just my way to commemorate the week.

Holy week in the Philippines is a week long religious holiday.  Businesses are closed and life slows down.  It's also a time when people flock to their home provinces to observe the solemnity of Holy Week.

I would love to spend Holy Week again in my hometown.  I remember activities during the week were centered around the church; a time to reflect on the sufferings of Christ.  It was also an excuse to bump into people you haven't seen in awhile... And also a time to eat binallay (banana wrapped sticky rice flour cake very similar to the Tagalogs suman), which is topped with a caramelized coconut reduction (latik).

I don't know how the name came about but this is what we Ybanags enjoy, a snack similar to hot cross buns traditionally eaten on Good Friday (in Europe)... And courtesy of my Mama's recipe, I'm here trying to recapture a traditional food eaten during this time of the year.  Happy Easter to all!



2 cups Glutinouos rice flour
banana leaves


In a mixing bowl pour the flour.
Add water little at a time to form a thick mass.
Knead to form a ball.
Divide the "malagkit" or dough into small balls. (ping-pong size balls)
Roll to an oval shape and flatten between the palms of your hands.
Spread butter on banana leaves. Wrap each piece of binallay with banana leaves and place in a steamer.
Steam for about 20 minutes or until cooked.

1 can of coconut milk
1  c brown sugar

Latik is the residue formed from the reduction of coconut milk.  Just pour the whole can of coconut milk in a thick saucepan.  Bring it to boil and continue to stir until most of the liquid has evaporated.  The milk will begin to change its color to slight brown and begin to solidify.  At this point add the brown sugar.  Continue to stir until the sugar caramelizes.  Once it has caramelized, add a little water and let it simmer to form a thick sauce.

This is best enjoyed if paired with slices of mango.

STM tip:  I prefer to use Chaukoh Coconut milk, it's been tried and tested to make a good latik.

Lisa of Sweet as Sugar Cookies blog invited me to join her sweet treat party. Thank you Lisa and folks, go check out the other treats... just click below.

Saturday, April 16, 2011



 [dek-uh-duhns, dih-keyd-ns] noun - unrestrained or excessive self-indulgence


The word maybe very subjective, but when the host to this challenge (and my twitter buddy) Lala announced the theme for Kulinarya Cooking Club  for April, I instantly thought of  sweet and fluffy canonigo.  This dessert dish is a Filipino version of the French dessert oefus a la neige.

But before you get too excited (and so as not to be accused of bait and switch)... let me tell you how I ended up not doing canonigo.  

 I saw in my freezer a pack of "pusitcharon" or dried squid ready for frying (just like chicharones).  The pack seemed to say "fry me, it only takes 10 seconds"... hmmm, what an intriguing substitute to my orignal dish for the challenge. 

Before I knew it, I dropped a batch of dried squid in a tub of hot oil and flash fried it to instantly bring out the intense flavor.  But let me warn you before the neighbors complain, the scent will also be intense.  Please plan accordingly - make sure you have enough ventilation to clear out the smell of the fried squid.  Also, make sure not to overcook it.

But this dish is not decadent enough for me, I wanted something sinful and over the top.  I wanted to serve a dish not only having intense flavors, but also being sweet, spicy, crunchy and tangy.  So I went even further. I put back the crispy squid into the pan, poured 3/4 cups of brown sugar, added chopped chiles, dashed more cayenne powder, drizzled with vinegar. And voila... 

The result?
intense flavor (and aroma) ... check!
tangy ... check!
sweet.... check!
crunchy... check!
sinful... definitely!

Anything fried tastes good.   Whether you deny it or not.  The golden brown color from deep frying and the caramelized sugar coating it makes me grab a couple of pieces. I took the first bite and was temporarily dazed.  It made me think decadent and sinful! What more can I say, it's deep fried (crunchy), salty, flavorful, sweet and spicy all in that one bite. 

I took a second bite... the crunch it created sounded so good, and the unfamiliar texture made it even more special, it was like a whole orchestra playing in my mouth, with the different flavors comprising the sound of the various instruments.  The combination was magical.  When I bit into the little specs of chili, it exploded in my mouth and jolted me with heat while giving me the tangy taste of the vinegar.

I was standing there by my stove and I could feel my head lifting my chin up,  my cheeks slowly stiffing  up until a smile came about. It was happiness in a crunch!  

When my husband came home, I saw him grab one, then another until he said: "This is genius! Give me some beer!"  It was definitely something new.  

And it took me all of 20 minutes to make... Here again are the directions:

Just get a pack of pusitcharon... (available at the Asian grocery store)

Deep fry it for 10 seconds... you would know it's cooked when they float to the surface...

Add some brown sugar...  chopped chiles (depending on how much heat you want) add 2 tbsp of vinegar...

Voila, you have this sinful indulgence on a plate...

One caveat I must make:  This fried squid dish is high in salt and sugar, so please do not over-indulge.

This has been another KCC post check out what other KCC friends has in store this month!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

oh spring... you make my heart sing

He usually doesn't talk to me.  All he does is smile very briefly and walks away.  But today, my neighbor of 3 years said:

 Such a beautiful day isn't it?

I paused.  I looked around me to check whether he was indeed talking to me.  But yeah I was the only one around... my heart skipped.  This was one of the rare occasions I have heard him speak... ahh the magic of spring!

There's so many things to love about spring. Shimmering hues of yellow, radiant red and royal lavender petals blanket the yards and the rows of flower beds surrounding my neighborhood.  The subtleness of the rays of the sun giving you that warm feeling and making you glow signals only one thing - Spring is here!  And oh how it makes my heart sing!

And so today, even if I was out the whole day, running errands and driving around for my son, I came home still so giddy and happy, singing like the bird chirping outside my window. As I saw the over-riped bananas on my kitchen counter looking sad and limp, I instantly got my mixing bowl and mashed the bananas, quickly turning them into a quick bread recipe: banana nut bread with nutella ganache. My son and I immediately enjoyed this bread for our mid afternoon snacks.

Banana Nut Mini with Nutella Ganache 


2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cup sugar
1tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 tsp vinegar or lemon juice
3 large bananas
1 cup milk
1/2 cup roasted peanuts


Pre-heat oven at 350 F.

Grease pan with butter.

In a mixing bowl,  mix together flour, baking soda and baking powder.  Add in salt and sugar.

In another bowl, mash the bananas.  Pour in the milk and beat the eggs.  Add the flour mixture little by little.  Add vinegar and mix thoroughly.

Bake for about 30 - 40 minutes. Let it cool.

For the Ganache:

2/3 c nutella hazelnut spread
2 tbsp butter
In a  pan melt the butter.  Stir in the nutella.  Add a pinch of salt (this is optional)

Pour it over the minis and sprinkle crushed roasted nuts over it.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Oops I did it again.

There I was again. I stepped out of the grocery store and I was ready to load the bags of groceries into my car. As I approach the trunk, my fingers quicken their search through my belongings and I frantically think to myself, "where are my keys?" 

So  I start to look for it. With one hand holding up the purse, my other hand is free to dig into the purse and jumble through all my stuff. Frankly, I don't know why we ladies love to carry around big purses all the time when we know it just leads to painful shoulders and lost belongings; but we do it anyway. Just as I begin to panic, I notice out of the corner of my eye that the cluster of keys are in my other hand. Yay! I found them.

I don't know about you, but I get these types of episodes more often now that I'm in my 40's. This may just be what you call forgetful at 40? Oh now I know, that probably the reason why people say that life begins at 40 is because you tend to forget what happened before that age... LOL!

My forgetfulness has even affected me in the kitchen. My plan was to make paella sans meat, as it was a Friday during Lent, so I had my rice soaked and ready in a separate bowl. For some reason, I took out a package of noodles from my pantry and without thinking, I grabbed a pot, filled it with water, and cooked it. I realized too late that I was, in fact, cooking paella and not pasta. Since I had already cooked pasta, I discarded the initial plan and had to use the pasta. Sometimes accidents do happen for a reason and in this case, it was a blessing in disguise since this accidental pasta (as we love to call it) is now without a doubt one of my family's favorite dishes. And so I'd like to share with you my seafood pasta a la paella.

Seafood Pasta a la Paella:


Seafood mix (mussels, shrimp, squid, etc.)
3 tbsp olive oil
3 medium tomatoes, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup shrimp broth (boil shrimp heads, crush the head or use an Osterizer, then drain)
1 pkg pasta linguine (cook as directed but use shrimp broth to boil pasta)
1 medium red/green bell pepper (cut into strips)
1/2 tsp saffron
100 grams sundried tomatoes (optional)
1/2 can tomato paste
salt and pepper to taste


In a skillet, add olive oil over medium heat.  Saute onions and garlic. Add the seafood and shrimp. Brown the edges and set aside leaving a little amount on the skillet.  Reduce heat to medium.

Using the same skillet, add tomatoes saute until tomatoes get limp. Add saffron, make sure not to burn it.  Stir in tomato paste.  Bring back the rest of the seafood mix.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Add a little of the shrimp broth.  Toss the pasta together.  Add sun dried tomatoes and pepper make sure not to overcook them.  Season with salt and pepper.

Saturday, April 9, 2011


I received a letter from my friend, Mia last night. Her letter was brief but it evoked vivid memories.  We have been friends for over 30 years.  We went to the same high school and eventually it was in college when we grew closer together.  We went on double dates and had lots of fun at the bars and restaurants popular in Manila during the late 80's to early 90's.  Places like Pep's, Rhythm and Booze and Reasons.  Receiving my friend's letter triggered a lot of powerful and pleasant memories in my mind.

I was inspired to make gambas and it clearly invoked in me the same memories.  I was transported back in time.  The vivid orange color and the smell made me recall the fun times spent in those places.  I heard the laughter and the cajoling, I could smell the fresh scent of Nenuco and Denenes.   I felt my hair fluff-up like the 80's hairdo and smelled the can of hairspray. I was dancing and singing to the tune of the Swing out Sister's Breakout. Similar to Proust and his madeleines, it awakened vivid memories and the excitement associated with it.

Yes this is the "in" appetizer to order during those days.  And before I get lost in all the memories from the 80's, let me go ahead and share the recipe with you.

Gambas Al Ajillo Filipino Style


2 lbs shrimp
1 small can tomato sauce
5 cloves garlic (minced)
2 tbsp maggi seasoning
1/2 tsp cayenne powder
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter

In a frying pan add olive oil and butter, saute garlic, add shrimp and make a quick stir.  Add tomato sauce. Cook for about 3 minutes.  Add seasoning and cayenne powder.  Cook for another 2-3 minutes.
Serve immediately.

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