Monday, July 20, 2009

Strawberry Tart


I am back!

It’s been a while since my last post. I know, I know… this blog went into hibernation for almost 2 months. It was never my intention to neglect you guys, but it was a case of the spirit-being-willing-but-the-body-is-weak for me.

It has really been so hot these past few weeks here in Miami. After the initial rainy season as the summer began, the heat came with vengeance! We have been averaging 90+ degrees here everyday, with some days even up to the 100's. Talk about being hot and humid!

The heat sucks up all my energy, it seems, that at the end of the day, I barely have enough left to get through dinner. I'm pretty sure that the heat has affected my brain as well, and has caused the creative side of it to go into its sleep-mode. Hence, the lack of inspiration to blog.

The truth is, I’ve also been busy. Last month, we went on a road trip to visit Mr. J’s family in Ohio. Yep, we drove from Miami to Akron. It was a long drive, but we enjoyed every bit of that adventure. The best thing about driving is being able to do everything at our own pace. We stopped where we wanted to and even did some things that were totally unplannned! I used to not like doing anything not planned, but in the few years that I’ve been married, I’ve learned to be flexible. Thanks to Mr. J who taught me how to relax (that means, to do away with planning once in a while) and just enjoy. Spontaneity does bring good surprises -at times- wouldn’t you agree?


Growing up in the tropics, it seemed that we have summer all year long - we can practically swim almost the whole year round! In my early teenage years, we lived in an area where the beach was just a few minutes away. My father loved to go snorkeling, so we were at the beach almost every weekend! Can you imagine how dark I got as a young girl?

I have so much memories of our countless family beach outings. Thinking about those times never fail to make me smile.

Just like the berries that abound in summer. They make me smile too.

Another reason why I love this time of the year -- berries. There's the strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, black currants, cherries - you name it, I love them all. (here in Florida, the strawberry season comes a bit earlier, but at this time, we still enjoy the strawberries coming from the other parts of the country.)


I enjoy the berries eaten as is, but I equally love them on desserts as well.

So, here’s a classic “strawberry-licious” tart which I’ve done a few weeks ago. To make this tart extra special, I made the pie crust as well. If you don't have time to make the pie crust, you can use the store-bought ones by all means. Making the crust requires a bit of effort, yes, but it is definitely well worth doing if you can.

Sharing this tart to Lasang Pinoy Sunday (La.PiS)– Crusty – for a flaky, perfect pie crust.

Have lots of fun family get-aways and memories in summer!

Strawberry Tarts
Ina Garten, Barefoot in Paris

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced
2 tablespoons cold shortening (recommended: Crisco)
1/4 cup ice water
2 cups Pastry Cream, recipe follows
2 pints whole strawberries, hulled and halved
1/3 cup apricot jelly
3 tablespoons shelled pistachios, halved, optional

Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a small bowl and place in the freezer for 30 minutes. Put the flour mixture in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the butter and shortening and pulse about 10 times, or until the butter is in the size of peas. Add the ice water and process until the dough comes together. Dump on a well-floured board and form into a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Roll out the dough and fit into 4 (4 1/2-inch) tart pans with removable sides. Don't stretch the dough when placing it in the pans or it will shrink during baking. Cut off the excess by rolling the pin across the top of each pan. Line the tart shells with a piece of buttered aluminum foil, butter side down, and fill them with dried beans or rice. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the beans and foil, prick the bottom of the shells all over with a fork, and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes until lightly browned. Set aside to cool.

Before serving, fill the tart shells with the pastry cream. Arrange the berries decoratively on top of the cream. Melt the apricot jelly with 1 teaspoon of water and brush the top of the tarts. Sprinkle with pistachios, if using, and serve.

Pastry Cream:
5 extra-large egg yolks, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 cups scalded milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon Cognac
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon heavy cream

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the egg yolks and sugar on medium-high speed for 4 minutes, or until very thick. Reduce to low speed, and add the cornstarch.

With the mixer still on low, slowly pour the hot milk into the egg mixture. Pour the mixture into a medium saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens, 5 to 7 minutes. Don't be alarmed when the custard comes to a boil and appears to curdle; switch to a whisk and beat vigorously. Cook, whisking constantly, for another 2 minutes; the custard will come together and become very thick, like pudding. Stir in the vanilla, Cognac, butter, and heavy cream. Pour the custard through a sieve into a bowl. Place plastic wrap directly on the custard and refrigerate until cold.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Coconut Shrimp With Coconut-Cilantro Rice And Rainy Days

Photobucket When it rains, it pours. Literally.

These past couple of weeks has been rainy down here in my neck of the woods. The southern part of the Sunshine State of Florida momentarily became gray and gloomy. Summer officially started, not with sweltering heat but rather, with a drenching downpour. Even as I write, outside dark clouds are beginning to gather and the day has started to turn dreary.

But, I am not complaining. For the most part, to me the rain has been a good respite to the otherwise hot and humid temperature in this part of the world. Our lakes were fast evaporating, the grounds were so dry and fires have ravaged our forests. So I say, it’s about time that we welcome heaven’s blessings, albeit wet. All I’m praying is that may these rainy days be NOT an indication of how the hurricane season would be like in the coming months (saying this with crossed fingers). Lord knows, the last thing we need in these challenging economic times is a catastrophic disaster in the likes of Hurricane Katrina. God forbid.

Isn’t it funny how circumstances in our lives happen to match the weather sometimes? That’s just what happened with me. This past week had likewise been somewhat emotionally cloudy and dismal due to a death in the family.

A dear cousin of mine, Nok, as he is fondly called, passed away. He was in his mid 40’s.

Nok and I grew up together; we were quite close. When my own mother fell ill with breast cancer, he was there for us. He stepped in for me as I couldn’t be physically in the Philippines as much as I'd like to, being that I now reside in the U.S. He drove my parents to the doctors every week for my mother’s appointments, rounds of chemo and radiation sessions. Ironically, the day my mother passed away on 2007, was also the day Nok was admitted to the hospital. That was the day we discovered that he had failing kidneys; the same day he started his weekly dialysis.

Unfortunately, Nok’s health deteriorated slowly ever since until he took his last breath on Sunday, May 31st.

Dealing with death of a loved one has always been difficult, no matter the manner and time of their demise -- this and added to the fact that Nok has been the 4th of a series of deaths that occurred in my family this past 3 yrs. Among these deaths was that of Nok’s younger brother, who passed away just last year. So you can understand how much of a blow this is to our family.

In memory of Nok, I’d like to dedicate this dish to my dear cousin, who loved life and food. Nok, though your presence will be sorely missed by all who love you, I am sure that you are in a better place now where pain and suffering do not exist anymore. Nok, thank you with all my heart for all that you have been to me and my family. May you rest in peace.

With that said, I'd like to share with you this Coconut Shrimp which I made with Cynthia's Coconut-Cilantro rice (of Tastes Like Home). This was made a while ago, but I've never gotten around to posting it. I don't know what got into me that night but I just was on a coconut mood.

To be honest, when I first got to the U.S. and tasted coconut shrimp, I did not like it. Uh-oh. Back in the Philippines, I grew up on shrimps simply prepared by steaming them with garlic, gingeroot, salt, pepper and vinegar (and sometimes with a touch of lime soda). However, Mr. J took me to Island Breeze one day - a restaurant that serves Jamaican food - and we had the coconut shrimp served with a spicy honey-mustard dip as appetizers. That was my point of no return. I became a convert. I fell in love with the dish at that moment. And the sauce. Oh, the sauce.... That's it, it must have been the sauce!

Anyhow, after that night, I promised myself that I have to try and re-create the dish, and the sauce. But while making the coconut shrimp, I had a big Aha! moment. I remembered Cythia's Coconut Cilantro rice. Why not give it a try? And I did. I'm so happy that I did. Cynthia, your rice rocks! This was very good, and I thought, it was the perfect pair for the shrimp. Thank you very much.

We had such a wonderful meal, I just wish we were having it at a restaurant by the beach. :o)

This dish is also my entry to Lasang Pinoy (La.Pi.S) Sunday - Pearly Shells
. La.Pi.S is a weekly food thematic event. If you want to know more, check it out a here.

For the Coconut-Cilantro Rice recipe, I will not be posting it here in deference to Cynthia. If you want a copy of the recipe, pls. go here . Drop a note to Cynthia and I'm sure, she'll be glad to share it with you.

adapted from Cooking Light

18 unpeeled, large fresh shrimp
1 cup coconut milk (or butter milk if you don't have it)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup beer
1 (7-ounce) package sweetened flaked coconut
1/2 cup fine, dry breadcrumbs ( I used Panko breadcrumbs)
Peanut oil (I used canola)

Peel shrimp, leaving tails on. Butterfly shrimp by making a deep slit down the back of each from the large end to the tail, cutting to, but not through, inside curve of shrimp.

Stir together coconut milk, cilantro, and lime juice in a large bowl. Add shrimp, tossing gently to coat. Cover and chill 30 minutes. Drain shrimp from mixture (do not pat dry).

Whisk together flour and beer in a small bowl. Combine coconut and breadcrumbs in a shallow dish. Dip shrimp into beer batter; dredge in coconut mixture, pressing onto shrimp. Place shrimp on a baking sheet; freeze 20 minutes.

Pour oil to depth of 2 inches into a Dutch oven, and heat to 350°. Cook shrimp, in batches, 2 to 3 minutes or until golden. Drain on paper towels, and sprinkle lightly with salt. Serve immediately with the Mustard Sauce.

Mustard Sauce

Makes about 1 cup

1/3 cup pineapple preserves
1/3 cup apricot preserves
1/4 cup stone-ground mustard

Dash of hot sauce, if preferred

Stir together all ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and chill.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Cheesecake, S'more inspired


Have you had kitchen disasters? I have, countless of 'em.

If you like to cook, or work in a kitchen, I am pretty sure you have your share of fiascos, those good-intentions-gone-awry. It is inevitable and, if you ask me, it's an essential part of learning. If only we can share our stories over a cup of tea (or coffee), I am sure that we'll have a real blast listening to each other's narratives about our respective kitchen mishaps. Wouldn't that be so much fun?

When I talk about my unforgettable "duh!" kitchen moments, there is one incident that readily comes to mind. It is quite memorable for me, and may I say, hilarious too.

This happened 15 years or so ago. Back then, I was just beginning to explore the world of baking. I've always been interested in learning how to bake ever since the cooking/baking class I had when I was still in school. Sadly after graduating from college, my carreer took over and I'd never had a chance to really practice what I had learned in that baking class - until I got a scholarship in Germany for a long term training.

When I was in Germany, I spent most of my free time with a Filipino missionary family, so much so that they considered me as their "adopted" daughter. Their place became my home-away-from-home. The wife, Sarah, happens to be fantastic in so many ways, her cooking/baking skills included.
It was her who took me under her wing and mentored me, with the goal of molding me into becoming a good wife, a nurturing mother, and yes, an awesome baker. :o)

One day, I was helping her make a cake (forgive me, but I don't remember what kind it was). It all went very well in the beginning, until the time came for me to pop the pan into the oven. As it was my very first unsupervised baking endeavour, I eagerly picked up the pan from the counter, carelessly grabbing the pan by its rim.

Alas, the bottom of the pan gave way and to my horror, the cake batter flowed out from the pan and onto the floor much like a volcano angrily spewing its lava out --- all in a matter of seconds. Just imagine my shock and dismay! For a brief moment, I remained frozen on the spot staring at the blob by my feet. How mortified I was !!!

I think Sarah was just as shocked. But then, we quickly recovered and like a true Filipino, eventually found the whole scene comical. We laughed.
Thankfully, Filipinos are known to have the ability to laugh at themselves, to find something funny even in the most dire situation. Truly, this trait has served me well on occassions, such as this one.


Anyhow, that was my initiation to a unique baking tool, the springform pan. That experience definitely beats any classroom session on Lesson 101: An Introduction to Springform Pans hands down, wouldn't you say?

To commemorate that unforgettable experience, I bought my very first springform pan in Germany (Kaiser brand) which I love and still utilise to this day. It is the very same pan that we used to bake this S'mores inspired cheesecake in.

Springform pans are essential for cheesecake baking due to their removable bottom (boy, do I know this now!). This unusual pan has a fastener on the side that can be opened to remove the rim after the cake is cool, allowing the cake to remain on its base. It is a worthy investment if you love cheesecake and would like to try making one.

This cheesecake flavor, if I may say so, was actually concocted by Mr. J. For days, he had been wanting to make a cheesecake with his own flavor combination. So, like a good wife that I am (ahem), I let him have his way in "my kitchen". Hahaha. (Ok honey, it's OUR kitchen.)

After surveying what we have in our fridge and pantry, Mr. J came up with this one. (He does have his flashes of brilliance..**wink**) I'd say, this cheesecake is a combination of his favorite eats -- S'mores + coconut.

(NOTE: For those who don't know, a S'more is a traditional campfire treat popular in the United States and Canada, consisting of roasted marshmallows and a slab of chocolate - usually Hershey's milk chocolate - sandwiched in graham crackers).

Being that this cheesecake was done by Mr. J, I regret to say that I won't have any recipe to share with you. He has not had the time to write it down for me and if I were to wait, it would be a loooooong time coming 'til that happens. :o) But, I do encourage you to infuse your cheesecake with your favorite flavors. I'm sure that the result will be amazing, just like how this one turned out for us. Good job, honey! This one definitely goes to Mr. J's "future restaurant menu item" file.


And since this cheesecake was that good, I can't help but share this, first, with Sarah. Sarah, you are and always will be my epitome of a Proverbs 31 woman. Thank you for being such a good example of a wife, mother and friend to me. This blog is an evidence of the time and effort you've invested in me. I miss you.

Next, a slice goes to this week's Lasang Pinoy Sunday (La.Pi.S) - Slice It Up. Sorry for being the perennial latecomer - but hey, I made it :oD. If you want to know more about La.Pi.S, kindly check it out here.

Enjoy your cheesecake. Laugh a lot; life is too short.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Puto Maya (Sweet, Sticky Rice), Sushi-Style


“Ohhh.,… it’s mango season again!”

The words came out from my mouth almost like a song when I saw some mangoes being sold in the grocery that I go to. Adding to my delight was the fact that the mangoes are the ones that taste and look like those that come from the Philippines. I don’t see them often in the local grocery stores; I get them from the Asian markets all the time. I believe they are from Mexico. Naturally, I grabbed a box before they ran out.

This is one of the reasons why I love spring. Mangoes.

Mangoes are probably my most favorite tropical fruit. If you ask me, this is one of the food items that I miss most from the Philippines. I am especially partial to the mangoes that come from the city where I was born/raised – Cebu (Guadalupe). Those mangoes are so sweet; it is a dessert in and of itself. No kidding!

Philippine mangoes have none of that fibrous / stringy stuff, which is characteristic of those green/reddish mangoes that abound here in South Florida. They are pure, sweet flesh and the best way to eat them is by hand—yeah, peel off the skin and bite into it just like you would an apple (except that you have to remember, mangoes have huge seeds in the middle - you don’t want to loose a tooth). It’s a bit messy, but it’s totally worth it.


Having these mangoes is so timely. April was a crazy month for me, reason why I was MIA from the blog scene. For some reason, the past month was jammed with a lot of activities that ran from birthdays, baby showers to church functions. In the midst of all the helter-skelter, I began longing for something comforting; something that reminds me of home --- and this breakfast trio just hits the spot: freshly cooked "puto maya" (sweet sticky rice cooked in coconut milk), with ripe, sweet, golden mangoes and finished off with a hot "sikwate" (hot chocolate/cocoa drink processed locally in the Philippines). What is more comforting than something you grew up with eating?

So with my precious mangoes at hand, I was ready to tackle making the puto maya. Normally, puto maya requires soaking the rice for at least 6 hours. I believe this process lessens the liquid (in this case, coconut milk) needed to cook the rice in, at the same time, shortening the cooking period. However, I didn't have the luxury, nor the patience to wait for 6 hrs, so I decided to do my own short-cut method, hoping that it will yield the same results - more or less. And it did, thank God.

Mr. J likes the puto with mangga (mangoes, in our dialect) as well. As a matter of fact, it was him who suggested that I make sushi rolls out of it. He goes, “why don’t you make it like sushi? Form the rice into sushi, roll the rice in brown sugar to make them look like those sushi with fish eggs, and then put slices of mangoes on top of it!” (But I discovered later on that the turbinado sugar which I used melts easily that it didn't look right, so I ended up just sprinkling the rice with sugar as you can see in the photos.)

A popular Filipino breakfast served the popular Japanese way? A Filipino-Japanese fusion of sorts. Cute idea, isn't it? Now why hadn't I thought of that before?

“Oh, that is brilliant, Honey!” was my excited response to him. Not only is it brilliant, but it sounds like really fun to do (and it really was). Hey, who says we can’t have fun with our food? .. Which reminds me, one of my favorite bloggers, La Tartine Gourmande, did something similar to this but using rice pudding. Mind you, my hubby hadn't seen her post, so he thinks that this was a very original idea. I didn't have the heart to break it to him, so, let's just keep it a secret....ok??? SHHH...


This puto-mango-hot chocolate trinity is my entry to this week's Lasang Pinoy Sundays - Shades of Spring and Summer . La.Pi.S is a weekly food thematic photography meme, Filipino style.

Also, I'm sharing this to Iska of Iskandals for her Bloggoversary. Congratulations, Iska and here's to many more prolific years of cooking, eating and blogging!

Puto Maya
2 cups glutinous rice (sweet, sticky rice)*
4 cups thick coconut milk
3-1/2 tsps salt
1 cup sugar (or less, depends on how sweet you like it to be)
2-pcs ginger root cut into approx. 1", washed and smashed

1. Rinse rice and place in a 2-qt pot.
2. Add coconut milk, cover and let it come to a boil. When boiling, add the rest of the ingredients. Stir.
3. Turn heat to a lower setting and let mixture simmer for about 15 minutes or until rice is done. (I had to test the rice every now and then).
4. When done, scoop out rice, discarding the ginger root.Wrap rice in clean banana leaf, if available, and steam for about 30 mins.
5. If not, mold into cups and sprinkle with brown sugar if desired. Best enjoyed when warm, served with ripe mangoes and sikwate (hot chocolate).

Sikwate (Hot Chocolate/Cocoa Drink)
2 cups water
4 or more pcs tablea (pure dried cacao)*
1/2 cup brown sugar (or more, depends on your taste)

1. Place water in a pot. Let it come to boil.
2. Add the tableas and whisk vigorously by hand until tableas have melted.
3. Add sugar. Adjust sweetness to taste.
4. Serve with puto maya, while hot.

*NOTE: Glutinous (sticky) rice are available at Asian markets. Tablea is a Philippine product, so you might need to find a Philippine specialty store. Otherwise, you may use unsweetened cocoa powder as substitute.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Gelato di Riso (Rice Gelato), Homemade

“We gotta go to Vivoli!”, my friend Monica insisted.

According to her trusted travel resource,
Rick Steve’s Travel Guide, Monica informed us that Vivoli is said to make the best gelato in Florence, or in Italy for that matter. And Rick recommends trying the rice gelato.

"Rice ice cream?” I said, “never heard of that before! But rice + ice cream together? What’s not to like? That must be good".

Monica didn’t have to convince the group any further. Off we went to find Vivoli.

This conversation happened many years ago one summer. A couple of my colleagues and I decided to spend our summer break in Italy while being student-trainees in Germany. We were the typical student travellers – backpacking and staying in youth hostels. We really didn’t have that much money but we made the most of what we had. We met Monica while in Verona (of famed Romeo & Juliet), our first leg of the trip. Since she was traveling alone, she decided to hook up and tag along with us. So we were together in the next 4 weeks exploring Italy and became fast friends. Those were good times – no, best times.

It was in our stop in Florence that Monica mentioned this Gelateria that is a must-visit according to Rick Steve. (Rick Steve’s is a good resource when it comes to budget travels!)

After a bus ride and a lot of walking, we finally managed to find Vivoli. It was a small Gelateria, but boy, was there a long line outside of the shop! Not surprising though, because if it is the best Gelateria in Florence, then it follows that the place should be popular. So we fell in line. It must have taken us around 30 minutes to finally get our turn. Not bad, really. We were on vacation so time was on our side.

Needless to say, I had my Gelato di Riso for the very first time then. And I’m telling you, that was a piece of heaven in a cup (they don't have cones)! Yum'oh! It was so creamy, not too sweet -– everything that you had hoped a gelato would be – but with rice! It’s like a frozen rice pudding, but better! Indeed, our efforts paid off.
Last month, I got an ice-cream maker. It was one of those points-reward that Mr. J got from his job – so we got it for free! I love free stuff, don't you? Of course I wanted to make ice-cream immediately to try my new toy. For others, the logical thing to do might have been to make something basic for the first time. Something that’s probably from the recipes that come with the manual. But no, I am not like that. (Yeah, I’m crazy). I wanted to do something ambitious. I wanted to do something simple -- but not that simple, you know what I mean? (If you're a girl, then you'd know what I mean!)

So just out of nostalgia from that trip in Italy – and because I am Asian – I decided to make rice gelato. It had been many years ago since I had this ice cream. I don’t remember exactly how the taste was but all I know was that it was very good!

And so I began searching online for some recipes, which eventually led me to David Lebovitz’, The Perfect Scoop. This recipe book received so many good reviews from Amazon buyers, and most of all, it had the Rice Gelato recipe that I was looking for!!!! So that sealed the deal. I bought a copy.

After so many years, I had rice gelato again! It was creamy, super delicious. The only complaint Mr. J had was that it was too "orangey" - which was my fault. If you read the recipe, it required two strips of orange zests. Well, I made a mistake of pureeing the zests with the rice mixture (wasn't really a mistake because I decided to do it). Plus, I also added a teaspoon of orange liquour. So you can really taste the orange in the ice cream. Mr. J found the orange taste overpowering - maybe so - but I liked it. With the ice cream I made the hazelnut tuile cookie, that I shaped using the wooden handle of a spoon (for that cigar shape).

This rice gelato is my entry to this weeks' Lasang Pinoy Sunday (La.Pi.S) - Melted Bliss. Eating this ice-cream took me back to Italy..... What a bliss, indeed!


Rice Gelato (Gelato di Riso)
David Lebovitz

1/2 cup Italian Arborio rice*
3 cups whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean*, split in half lenghtwise
Two 1-inch-wide strips of orange zest
5 large egg yolks (save the whites for use later)
1 cup half-and-half or cream
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

1. Preheat the oven to 350.

2. In a 1.75 to 2 quart baking dish, mix together the rice, milk 1/4 cup of the sugar and the salt. Add the vanilla bean and strips of orange zest.

3. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour. Remove the rice from the oven and remove the foil. Stir in the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, then continue to bake the rice, uncovered for another 30 minutes.

4. Remove the rice from the oven a second time, remove the vanilla bean and orange zest and briskly whisk in the egg yolks at once. Then whisk in the half and half or cream and nutmeg.

5. Puree half of the rice mixture in a blender or food processor until chopped fine then stir it back into the cooked rice.

6. Chill the mixture in the fridge (I left mine for 2 hrs), then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions.

*NOTE: I made mine 1/4 c arborio rice and 1/4 c sweet "gelatinous" rice, aka sticky rice. I thought that the sticky rice would make the ice cream a lot creamier, which it did. I didn't have a vanilla bean, but I used a good quality vanilla bean paste. But if you don't have the vanilla bean or paste, I believe that vanilla extract would do.

Monday, March 23, 2009

White Chocolate Macadamia Cookies & 100th Post


It’s my 100th post! Yay!

I don’t know what but the number 100 sounds like a big deal, huh? It’s like reaching a milestone. It did take me a year to reach 100 posts but still, it is some sort of an achievement considering that I’ve had homepages in the past that I haven’t attended to after the novelty wore of… However this time, I don’t think I’ll ever outgrow this blog, at least, not for a very long time.

This past week turned out to be eventful for us -- an action packed, hair-raising thrill of an experience. I’m not talking about the Twilight movie (which was neither scary nor suspenseful) but rather, I’m talking about our REFGRIGERATOR CATCHING FIRE!

Yep, we had fireworks right in my own kitchen. Imagine the horror of having our fridge burst into flames right before me? You don’t see that everyday, do you? We had power outtage one evening, and the surge of current when the electricity came back on apparently was too much for my old, faithful fridge that she gave up on us. She went out not just with a bang but with fireworks to boot… literally!

Thankfully, the fire didn’t catch any paper, plastic or cloth nearby (there wasn’t any, whew!) so it went out immediately just as instantly as it happened. But of course, I already screamed “FIRE!” to the top of my lungs that Mr. J must have leaped from upstairs going down to the kitchen as he was there in an instant. Scary thing, huh? Once again, I am just so grateful that nothing worse happened – it could have razed our house to the ground, you know.

Well, this leaves us with no choice but to get a new fridge! Yipee! And who wouldn’t want a new fridge? Yeah, I wish that the timing was better (with what’s going on in the economy, I don’t think we should be spending on anything right now), but this case is an exception. We gotta do what we gotta do, right?


After all that excitement, I certainly needed something to calm me down .. something familiar, comfortable and easy but yummy - like this white chocolate macadamia cookies.

This is Mr. J and I's all-time favorite cookie. It's especially good for me as I need to stay out of caffeine, which dark chocolates (or regular ones for that matter) have plenty of. Though technically, white chocolate is not really chocolate - but it's a good enough subsititute for me. I'm willing to be fooled, if it's this good.

So, do you like your cookies crunchy or soft? Well, I'm kind of in between. I like them not to crunchy - I like them a bit softer, so I underbake them a little bit (about 2-3 mins), and just leave them a minute or two on the cookie sheets before removing them. Also, I feel like it's better to toast the nuts before mixing them in the batter as it helps heighten the flavor of the macadamia in the cookies.

Keep these away from you... They're dangerous. You don't want to eat them all at once, do you?


White Chocolate Chip Macadamia Nut Cookies
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoons baking soda
10 ounces white chocolate* (chips or bars cut in chunks)
1 cup macadamia nuts*, chopped into chunks

1. Heat oven to 375 F. In large bowl, beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt with electric mixer until creamy.
2. Add eggs, beat well. Stir together flour, and the baking soda; gradually add to butter mixture,beating until well blended.
3. Stir in white chocolate chips and macadamia nuts.
4. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheet. Make sure to space them evenly to allow for spreading, about 1-2 inches apart.
5. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until set. (Edges are golden brown and center is set.)
6. Cool slightly, remove from cookie sheet to wire rack to cool completely.

*NOTE: Use good quality chocolate like Ghirardelli, Callebaut or Godiva. It makes a difference. If you're toasting the nuts, make sure that you cool them first before adding on to the batter. If you can't find macadamia around, probably a good substitute would be cashew nuts. As mentioned above, undercook slightly for softer cookies.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sweet Challah


This past week has gone by so fast. I couldn’t even believe that the weekend has come, and just as quickly, is gone. But you know what they say, when one is busy, one barely notices the time. I was defintely preoccupied at work. It was a pretty interesting week for me, to say the least. I wish I can engage you in an office gossip – but nah… LOL… you wouldn’t appreciate that in a food blog, would you now? ;oD

Anyways, I’ve always been a person who cannot sit still. I like to be busy. No, I thrive at being busy. I am always doing something even when I am sitting down. I’m the type who’s ever on-the-go and always ready to rock and roll, so to speak. I’m used to last minute changes and I adapt immediately to situations when need be.

The downside of this is that it isn’t easy for me to relax, and by this I mean, to just sit down and do.... nothing. I feel like there is always something important for me to do with my time. I have to deliberately slow down. Mr. J is very good at reminding me of this (thank God). I realize that I do need to take a break once a while. It is indeed important to take the time to appreciate the things around us, to enjoy and take in what we have at the moment, otherwise, we might miss out on a lot (and it might be too late when we realize that we did).

Anyways, enough about my rambling.


I love bread. Growing up though, I wasn’t so much of a bread eater. As you know, being Asian means that my house had more rice and noodles than bread. In the Philippines, the only meal served with bread is breakfast (pan de sal). Other than that, bread is more of a snack item to Filipinos than anything else.

However, my short stint in Europe years ago, and now being based in the U.S., have slowly changed me. I’ve come to eat bread with my meals more and I don’t crave rice as much as I used to. (Ugh. I can almost hear the gasp of some Filipinos who may scream “sacrilege!” )

I love to bake bread. Nothing compares to that sweet aroma that tantalizes our senses when baking at home. Unfortunately, with all the hustle and bustle of life, I rarely get the chance to bake them--- and I mean bake ’em in the old fashion way of kneading and manhandling the dough! Hehehe…. (It’s a good stress reliever, actually).


One of the breads that I love eating is Challah (pronounced “khal-lah” - you gotta make that gutteral sound too). Challah is a braided, eggy loaf of bread traditionally eaten by Jews during Sabbath, holidays and other ceremonies. It is very close to the French brioche.

I decided to make Challah for the first time. I buy it all the time so might as well try my hand at it. It came out good, didn't it? With a bit more practice, I'll have the braiding part down in no time.

Nothing beats home-made breads. They’re the best.

Sharing this home-made Challah to Lasang Pinoy Sunday: Bready Or Not. Lasang Pinoy (La.Pi.S) is a weekly food thematic photography meme, Filipino style.

This is also my entry to Homemade#2 Bread, an wonderful event by Ben. Hop over to there to check out all the wonderful creations by other home bakers.

Sweet Challah
from Cooking Light
1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 cup warm water (100°F to 110°F)
3 tablespoons honey
Dash of saffron threads, crushed
3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
3 cups bread flour (about 14 1/4 ounces), divided
Cooking spray
1 teaspoon cornmeal
1 teaspoon water
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon poppy seeds* (I used more than this amount)

1) Dissolve yeast in 1 cup warm water in a large bowl; stir in honey and saffron threads. Let stand for 5 minutes. Add melted butter, 1 teaspoon salt, and egg; stir well with a whisk.

2) Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 2 3/4 cups flour to yeast mixture, and stir until a soft dough forms. Cover and let stand for 15 minutes.

3) Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes); add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will be very soft).

4) Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 40 minutes or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.)

5) Punch dough down. Shape dough into a ball; return to bowl. Cover and let rise an additional 40 minutes or until doubled in size. Punch dough down; cover and let rest 15 minutes.

6) Divide dough into 3 equal portions. Working with 1 portion at a time (cover remaining dough to prevent drying), on a lightly floured surface, roll each portion into a 25-inch rope with slightly tapered ends. Place ropes lengthwise on a large baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal; pinch ends together at untapered ends to seal. Braid ropes; pinch loose ends to seal. Cover and let rise 20 minutes or until almost doubled in size.

7) Preheat oven to 375°.

8) Combine 1 teaspoon water and large egg yolk, stirring with a fork until blended. Uncover loaf, and gently brush with egg yolk mixture. Sprinkle evenly with 1/4 teaspoon poppy seeds. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack.

*NOTE: You may also leave the poppy seeds out, or substitute with sesame seeds, or maybe use sunflower seeds for that matter.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Mustard Flavored-Tuna & Veggie Tartlets and a Blog-anniversry

I have an impulsive nature. I always have ever since I was young. But I have to admit that with age comes restraint (I'd rather call it wisdom though). I’d like to believe that since I am now much wiser, hence I'm less impulsive.

Well, this blog is a result of such impulse. I didn’t plan on having a food blog, never thought of having one ever before in my life – although to be honest, I had already been browsing other food blogs for recipes and inspiration. But one day after entertaining some friends in the house, I wanted to take a picture of my husband’s creations, thus, the thought of starting my own food blog came to mind… and I acted out on it immediately.

And so, Spice Of Life was born in cyberspace around this time last year. Wow. Time indeed passes by so quickly. This is one of those rare times that my impulse yielded some positive results.


I am truly thankful that I have this blog. Despite the dedication and the hours that it requires, I do love sharing my passion with you. This blog had opened a whole new dimension of culinary exchange for me and have allowed me to meet some of the most talented, creative, fun and kindhearted people from all over the world. Albeit these friendships are virtual, nevertheless I feel that sharing a common love and interest in food and food photography have somehow forged a bond among us.

So, to all those who faithfully visit and for those who are just checking this blog out for the first time – THANK YOU. I do hope you’ll continue to come, and I look forward to learning from you in as much as I hope that somehow, I’ve inspired you to cook your meals at home through this blog.

To celebrate my blog's 1st birthday, I’ve decided to do a recipe that’s from one of the most favorite food blog that I visit regularly –
Bea of La Tartine Gourmande. I distinctly remember this particular dish of hers, because I was attracted to its vibrant colors, not to mention that I love Tuna. It is a very pretty and nutritious dish…. and did I tell you that I love tuna? :o)

So to celebrate my bloganniversary, I have created Bea’s
Mustard-flavored Tuna and Veggie Tartlets. The only minor thing I did to the recipe was to change up the flours. Her’s is a gluten-free version but since I have no gluten problem, I decided to use ½ cup wheat flour instead of quinoa, and ½ cup teff instead of millet flour. Thus, my crust came out darker than hers.


This is a very filling but healthy dish. I especially like the fact that you get the crust, tuna, cheese and veggies all in one bite! I’m glad that I tried this. If you want to, check out the recipe

Bea, I hope that I’ve done justice to your beautiful creation.

I am also serving this dish to the Lasang Pinoy: Tri-colore. The three colors here being the green from the zucchini, red from the tomatoes and white from the cheese.

Lasang Pinoy (La.Pi.S.) is a weekly thematic food photography meme, Filipino style.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Involtini Of Beef

The South Beach Food and Wine Festival is going on right now even as I write this... and I couldn't go. I'm absolutely bummed out.

It is a 4-day festival taking place by the beach (U.S.'s Riviera, South Beach) which showcases the amazing talents of the world's most renowned wine makers, celebrated chefs and culinary personalities. It's the ultimate event to go for foodies and foodies at heart!

The truth is, it's not so much as I couldn't but that I didn't go - for valid reasons. The tickets for this event are a little expensive. With how the economy is going nowadays, it just doesn't seem right for me to be spending between $200-$400 (for the events I wanted to attend). Arrgghhh!!! I so wanted to go. A part of me is screaming and kicking like a child; but the wise part of me hushed the child down :oD While the experience and fun of meeting all those celebrity chefs whom I admire is arguably worth it, but fact remains - my going isn't a real need. It is just a want; something that I can do away with, or at least, put off for now. If there's any time to spend wisely, it is now. Besides, there's always next year, right?

This festival is definitely an item in my bucket list, so I have to go even for just once. I do hope things will work out for me next time. Till then, I am keeping my fingers crossed, and praying that the economy will take a better turn in the next months to come.
I don't know about you but good food always lifts me up. And since I needed cheering up, I thought that this dish, Involtini Of Beef (or beef roll-ups), would do the trick. It is pleasing to the eye and tastes fantastic! What's more, it is not at all complicated to do. I actually find this quicker to do than, say, lasagna.

If you've been visiting this blog often, you'd notice that my recipes are simple and easy to do. So this dish is right up my alley. Much as I'd like to cook, but I don't want to be spending too much time in the kitchen and not have enough time left to spend with my loved ones. The latter is important too, you know.

I made this for Mr. J for his birthday and he totally liked it. This dish may be simple, but it obviously requires some effort (and love) and the end product is special -- very elegant.

So go ahead and try this dish. As Ingrid Hoffman says, "If I can do it, you can do it!".

I am sharing this dish to Lasang Pinoy Sundays (La.Pi.S): EATS A WRAP!. Lasang Pinoy is a weekly food photography meme, hosted by SpiCes.


Involtini Of Beef
(Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis)

1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cups carrots, julienned (cut into thin strips)
1/2 cup red or yellow bell pepper (cut into thin strips)
1/2 cup zucchini (cut into thin strips)
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 (3 to 4-ounces each) beef scaloppini (from London Broil or Top Sirloin)
All-purpose flour, for dredging
1/2 cup dry white wine*
1 bay leaf
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup frozen peas
1-ounce thinly sliced prosciutto, coarsely chopped

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat.
2. Add the veggies, onion, and garlic and saute until the veggies are tender, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.
4. Stir in the Parmesan.
5. Season beef with salt and pepper.
6. Using 2 tablespoons for each, divide the veggie mixture among the beef slices. 6. Roll up the beef slices to enclose the filling, tucking in the ends. Secure the rolls with toothpicks.
7. Heat the remaining oil and the remaining tablespoon of butter in the same large frying pan over medium-high heat.
8. Dredge the beef rolls in flour to coat lightly.
9. Add the beef rolls and cook until brown on all sides, about 8 minutes.
10. Add the wine and stir to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the skillet.
11. Add the tomatoes with their juices and the bay leaf. Cover and simmer until the beef is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer the beef rolls to a platter.
12. Remove the toothpicks, then cover the beef rolls with foil to keep warm.
13. Add the peas and prosciutto to the sauce in the skillet and stir until the peas are heated through and the sauce reduces slightly, about 5 minutes.
14. Season the sauce, to taste, with salt and pepper.
15. Drizzle the sauce over the beef rolls and serve.

NOTE*: You may substitute wine with chicken broth, if preferred. As for the veggies, I didn't have zucchini on hand, so I just used carrots and green bell pepper and adjusted the amount accordingly .

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Triple Chocolate Mousse

"Chocolate cures everything".

Not an entirely accurate statement, but it holds a tiny grain of truth. Chocolate may not solve any of our problems, but it does make us feel better. Why? Because chocolate has substances called phenylethylamine and seratonin. These are mood lifting agents found in our brain. Once chocolate is eaten, these substances are released to the nervous system by our brain enducing a rapid mood change: a feeling of well-being, increase of heart rate and rise in blood pressure. Simply put, chocolate is an "upper" - it physically invigorates us and lessens our inhibitions.

No wonder why the Aztecs of Mexico thought for chocolate to have aphrodisiac qualities. This may also explain the reason why chocolate has become the food for romance and love --the feeling that it evokes within us mimics that of being in love.

For this Valentine's Day, I prepared a special treat for my husband. Guess what?? It's chocolate, of course! (no-brainer there, huh?)

I made a Triple Chocolate Mousse... 3x the aphrodisiac power, what do you say? *wink*

Mr. J unfortunately had to work on Valentines Day, so this meant that we were not going out for dinner. Not that we wanted to anyway. We're both low-key people, and the crowd just serves to take away the appeal for us to dine out on Valentine's Day.

So since he was at work the whole day, I had all the time to prepare our special Valentine's Day dinner. I kept our main course simple, with roasted pork tenderloin with veggies (which I will post later), but for dessert I took the extra effort.

I got the recipe for the Triple Chocolate Mousse from my friend, Kristel's bridal shower. For party favors, she gave away petite sizes of it along with the recipe (which I thought was neat). The mousse was to die for! That's why I promised to try to make it myself. And what better time to do it than on the day of romance???

This dessert is silky and rich, and one of the easiest mousse techniques to do. But, it does need time, at least an hour interval, for each layer to set.

But you know what, Mr. J is worth all my time and effort! Corny as it may sound, but everyday with him is Valentine's. I love him and I am so blessed to have him to share life, and chocolate mousse, with. :oD

Sending this treat out, first to Kristel - thanks for the recipe!... and to Lasang Pinoy Sundays (La.Pi.S): I LOVE FOOD. Lasang Pinoy is a weekly food photography meme, hosted by SpiCes.

Triple Chocolate Mousse
(Recipe is for a large group. You may cut the recipe in half for a smaller group, like I did)

Bittersweet chocolate mousse
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used 70% dark chocolate)
1/2 tsp unflavored gelatin powder
1/2 cup milk
1-1/4 cup whipping cream

White chocolate mousse
12 oz white chocolate, chopped
1/2 tsp unflavored gelatin powder
1/2 cup milk
1 cup whipping cream

Milk chocolate mousse
10 oz milk chocolate, chopped
1/2 tsp unflavored gelatin powder
1 cup milk
1 cup whipping cream

To assemble:

1. For bittersweet mousse, melt chocolate in a bowl resting over a pot of gently simmering water (or use a double boiler)m stirring constantly. Add gelatin powder into milk and let sit for a minute. Heat milk (microwave is easiest) to just below a simmer and whisk into chocolate. Let chocolate mixture cool to room temperature. In the meantime, whip cream to soft peak and fold into cooled chocolate. Pour mousse into plastic wrapped-lined- 9-in square pan, spreading well into corners. Chill for at least an hour to set.

2. For white chocolate mousse - follow the same direction above, then spoon or pour gently over bittersweet mousse layer and chill for at least an hour to set.

3. For milk chocolate mousse - repeat the same process. Pour mousse gently over white chocolate layer.

4. Chill for at least 4 hours before serving.

5. To serve, invert pan onto a plate and peel of plastic. With a hot, dry knife, slice squares of mousse and lift onto plates with pie lifter.

6. Garnish with fresh berries, or chocolate shavings.

*NOTE: As you can see in the photos, I built my mousse in martini glasses, which I thought would make a nice presentation and would save me step #5 above. Half the recipe fills about 6-8 martini glasses, depending on the size.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Shepherd's Pie


This past week a couple of coldfronts hit South Florida. The temperature actually dipped to somewhere in the upper 30's Fahrenheit (about 3 degrees Celsius). Bbbrrrrrrr! It was C-O-L-D!

Those who are from northern USA, north America or Europe might find this laughable. Compared to the inches of snow and below zero temperature you get out there, 30's must be a heatwave for you. But for the true blue South Floridians (I'm not a native here but I grew up in a tropical island), 30's is definitely freezing! As they say, our blood is thinner.

I don't mind it being nippy once in while though. I welcome the change, especially the opportunity to take out my once-a-year winter-garb and layer on outfits, don chic coats or leather jackets, cute scarves, opaque stockings and wear those lovely high heeled boots!!! Afterall, it's always about fashion,isn't it? Next to food, that is. ;o)


When the temperature gets cooler, I always think of comforting food such as soups and stews. But this time around, I wanted something different, so I thought of one of my fave eats: Shepherd's Pie. Also known as "Cottage Pie", this English dish refers to a meat pie with a crust made of mashed potato.

Shepherd's pie is basically a casserole, traditionally made using ground lamb (hence, the name Shepherd, I think). But here in the US people commonly use beef instead of lamb. In my case, I went even further. I used ground turkey for my meat, to make the dish a bit more healthy. What I like about this dish (beside it being soooo good) is it's versatility. You can substitute the ingredients according to preference or availability. What more, this dish is even better the next day! If you'll have some leftovers, that is.

Mashed potato atop stewed ground meat and veggies? That's comfort food through and through!

I'm sending this dish over to La.Pi.S, Lasang Pinoy Sundays: LAYERED. La.Pi.S. is a weekly food photography meme hosted by SpiceS.


Shepherd's Pie

Meat filling:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 med onion, chopped
1 lb ground lamb, beef or turkey
1 tbsp flour
1 can diced tomatoes (14 oz), drained, juice reserved
1/2 cup beef or chicken stock/broth
2 tsps Worcesteshire sauce
½ cup frozen peas, thawed
2 med carrots, diced finely
1 red bell pepper, diced finely
1 sprig rosemary, chopped

4 large potatoes (about 1-1/2 lbs), peeled and chopped
2 tbsp sour cream

1/2 cup heavy cream (or subsitute chicken/beef broth for healthier version)
1 egg yolk
2 tbsps fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
Dash of sweet paprika

1. Boil potatoes in salted water until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain potatoes and pour them into a bowl.
2. Combine sour cream, egg yolk and cream (or broth). Add the cream mixture into potatoes and mash until potatoes are almost smooth.
3. While potatoes boil, preheat a large skillet over medium high heat.
4. Add oil to hot pan with beef or lamb. Season meat with salt and pepper.
5. Brown and crumble meat for 3 or 4 minutes. If you are using lamb/beef and the pan is fatty, spoon away some of the drippings.
6. Add chopped carrot and onion to the meat. Cook veggies with meat 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add tomatoes.
7. In a second small skillet over medium heat cook butter and flour together 2 minutes. Whisk in broth and juice of tomato and Worcestershire sauce. Thicken gravy 1 minute. Add gravy to meat and vegetables. Stir in peas.
8. Preheat broiler to high. Fill a small rectangular casserole with meat and vegetable mixture.
9. Spoon potatoes over meat evenly. Top potatoes with paprika and broil 6 to 8 inches from the heat until potatoes are evenly browned.
10. Top casserole dish with chopped parsley and serve.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Imperial Asparagus


Friends, I have really been remiss in keeping my blog up to date. For this, I apologize. I didn't expect for the year 2009 to become as busy as I am now. But I'm not complaining. I like to be busy but I am in that period where I am still adjusting, trying to juggle my time in the hope of achieving a proper balance, so that I'd have time left to upload photos and write my blogs. So, please be patient with me.

I'm sure everyone agrees that food blogging is time consuming - the cooking, the photography set-up, shooting, uploading and then writing.. all these require a chunk of our time.

Then, there are times when your food has been photographed and uploaded, and yet you stare at the computer screen not knowing what to write about. Have you had that exprience? I'm sure you did. Isn't that frustrating?


Anyway, enough of my venting.

This week's Lasang Pinoy's theme is STEAMED. I have done Siomai (pork wanton dumplings) and Siopao (steamed buns) before so I can't post that here anymore. But, I do steam a lot - my veggies, especially. I prefer steaming because we all know that it is much healthier to do so, than blanching them in hot water. Steaming preserves more the vegetables' nutrients.

One of the favorite veggie I steam is Asparagus. I do like to roast them too, but since steaming is quicker, then I steam it most of the time. It is an excellent side dish to any entree you have, be it pork, fish or poultry.

As you can see here, I served the asparagus with roasted sweet potatoes ("kamote", as they're called in my native tongue) with caramelized onion, and chicken breasts simply roasted with extra-virgin olive oil, salt, pepper and herbs de Provence. This is a meal that is straightforward, but healthy and satisfying.

This my entry to Lasang Pinoy Sundays: Steamed.
Lasang Pinoy is weekly food photography meme, Filipino style.


Imperial Asparagus (serves 4)
2lbs of green or white asparagus, steamed
3 tablespoons of butter
3 tablespoons of flour
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup white wine
4 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
dash of hot sauce or ground cayenne pepper (optional)
salt and pepper
pinch of sugar

1. Trim the asparagus and peel the stalks to the tips.
2. Steam asparagus for 5-7 minutes (depending on how you like them. I like them crunchy still so I don't leave them that long)
3. Make the sauce. Melt the butter in a heavy based pan, in medium high heat.
4. Lower heat heat and stir in the flour. Stir with a wire whisk, for 1 minute to cook the flour a bit.
5. Gradually add the white wine and the stock. Stir until smooth then place over a low heat. Bring to the boil stirring constantly, until sauce thickens.
6. Add the cream and a dash of ground cayanne pepper, if preferred.
7. Now add the salt and pepper and a pinch of sugar, to taste.

Note*: My sauce didn't come out white because I cooked it in the same pan where I cooked my chicken, so I can have the chicken flavor in it. But if you've have guests, you might want to cook the sauce in a clean pan, so your sauce can come out white as it should be. Also, I added cayenne pepper because I wanted the kick. And lastly, I also added a dash of sweet paprika on top, as garnish.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Whole Wheat Fruity Breakfast Muffins – Lasang Pinoy Sundays

I’ve been sluggish as of late. No kidding. My mind isn’t just functioning right, and I feel so slow that I even mix-up dates and times.

Last week, I had a conversation with my husband about stuff to do and I got confused for a while because I actually thought that the next day would be Thursday, when in fact, it was going to be Friday! I was 24 hours behind, imagine?! Tsk, tsk. My brain must have needed to re-charge so bad after all the frenzy during the holidays.

But not to worry, I’m getting better now. This past weekend, I took it all slow and chose not to think of those things that “needed” to be done. I gave myself a break, as my husband lovingly suggested.

As to holiday food left-overs, I don’t have any to speak of. For starters, I didn’t have a gathering in our house. We went to our friend’s family (like we always do every year) and so whatever we brought home from the party was gone. But, I do have lots of fruits. Remember my last post when I told you about our family's tradition of doing 12 (others do 13) different fruits for the New Year? (
check my post here). Yep, I still have most of the fruits in that basket and they’re getting ripe by the day. I don’t want to have to throw them away, especially considering that nowadays, every dollar in our pocket really counts.

So in order to use up my fruits, I came across this muffin recipe which I modified a bit to include more fruits in it. That’s how I ended up with this whole wheat fruity muffin. I actually just threw them all together, crossed my fingers and hope that it’ll come out ok.

And they did. Mind you, this muffin is whole wheat, so remember, the texture is not the same as the regular ones. But the muffins came out moist and fruity, of course. My hubby says, “they’re actually good”. :o)

I am sharing this recipe with Lasang Pinoy Sundays: Left Overs - weekly food photography meme, Filipino style.

Whole Wheat Fruity Breakfast Muffins
1 cup organic wheat flour *
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
½ cup butter
½ cup raw sugar (turbinado)*
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 pc apple, diced
1 cup blueberries
1 cup cranberries
½ cup applesauce (unsweetened)
1-1/2 cups apple juice

* You may substitute with all purpose flour (APF) and granulated sugar, respectively. When using APF, lessen the apple juice by 1/4 cup.

1. Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees F.
2. In medium bowl add the flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt. Mix well.
3. In your stand mixer (or handheld) with paddle attachment, cream the butter and the sugar until they’re fluffy. About 5-8 mins at medium speed.
4. In the meantime, in a separate bowl, mash the bananas, and add the rest of the fruit, as well as the apple sauce.
5. Add the flour slowly to the sugar-butter mixture. Make sure that your mixer is in LOW setting or you’ll end up wearing the flour. :o)
6. Then add the apple juice. Mix briefly, just until everything is incorporated.
7. Then gently fold in fruits using spatula.
8. Fill well-greased medium sized muffin cups up to 2/3 of filling.
9. Bake for 20-25 mins or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
10.Let cool before taking them out of the cups.

Suggestion: You may make a glaze for the muffins, such as lemon. But as for me, I prefer it without.