Patola Misua Soup

This soup, sponge gourd and thin wheat noodle soup, is one of my favorites, as well as a comfort food for me.  It is usually cooked with ground pork, but chicken strips are used as well, and, if a more decadent version is desired, with shrimps.

In my household, we always use a combination of ground pork and shrimps.  But depending on the state of the local treasury, the amount of pork and shrimp used vary!

00_misua patola

My recipe:

1 large patola (sponge gourd)
2 to 3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small onion, minced
50 to 100 grams ground pork
12 pieces shrimp, trimmed and cleaned
40 to 60 grams misua, or thin wheat noodles, or as desired
3 to 6 cups shrimp stock, or water
salt and pepper, to taste
toasted garlic bits or chips, optional

Begin by preparing the sponge guard.  Peel the skin off and slice the gourd into thin rounds.  Rinse and dry.

If desired, the shrimps can be shelled and diced.  The shells and head can be used to make shrimp stock, which can be added to the soup for more flavor in lieu of water.  Otherwise, use chicken or vegetable stock.

Saute the garlic and onion.  Add the ground meat and shrimps.  Stir fry several seconds.  When the ground meat and shrimp are cooked, add the stock, or water.

Let the mixture boil.  Add the wheat noodles, simmer a couple of seconds until the misua is softened and cooked.  Season with salt and pepper, as preferred.

Garnish with toasted garlic bits or chips, if desired.


“The Last Word on a Consuming Passion”

I was eleven, and halfway across the world, when I saw Marcel Desaulniers on cable TV (I don’t even remember what program it was!)!  I was so utterly fascinated by him that I went on the subway (by myself!) and bought 2 of his books, one of which was Death by Chocolate: The Last Word on a Consuming Passion.


When I lost my entire library to Ondoy, I realized that this was one of the books I had to get another copy of, otherwise, I would forever regret it.  Thank goodness my brother was able to find a previously loved copy for me!

It’s been some years since Typhoon Ondoy and I have been baking in a frenzy.  But with such a long list to finish, it was only recently that I (finally) made a batch of the Chocolate Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies that is in the first few pages of the book.

And it is THE most delicious cookie I have ever tasted!!!

I swear!  I ate 2 giant cookies… with cold milk!  In one sitting!

(and I don’t even like chocolate!!!! or milk!!!)

And the little girl?  She looked at me with so much admiration and said:  Mommy, you make everything so delicious!

Now I know why the book is called Death by Chocolate!

One of these days, when I have enough courage (and time!) I will attempt to create his Death by Chocolate!  Recipe with rum sauce here.


Lebovitz’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

This time, the recipe is by David Lebovitz from his book “The Great Book of Chocolate”.  The recipe can be found online here.  The only change I made was to lessen the chocolate chips to 1 cup and since I didn’t have any nuts, I added some of B’s peanut MM candies (I chopped them in half or so).

But I couldn’t stop there.  I still had some dark chocolate buttercream left over from some cupcakes I made the other day so I decided to make cookie sandwiches!

00_Lebovitz CCCa

To be honest, the cookies were good, but I still prefer my (old) favorite recipe…  The cookie sandwiches, however, were really yummy!

Ham and Cheese Rolls

This is a special request from the little girl.  She wanted a ham and cheese “stick”.  So I remade an old recipe.  The original version was the Ham and Cheese Roll-Ups.

ham cheese roll ups

The original roll-ups were an appetizer that I saw at a function that we attended some time ago.  I made my own version sometime ago and now I am re-working it.

The recipe for the original roll-ups –

Take a piece of sandwich bread and cut the crusts off.  Then flatten the bread (this is a very important step, will explain later).  Smear mayo or butter on the flattened, crustless bread.  Then place a piece of cooked ham and a cheese slice (square slices are best) on the bread.  Roll the whole thing up and secure with fancy picks.  Slice into 3 or 4 mini-rolls.

At this point I have to stress that it is crucial to flatten the bread.  I discovered (the hard, experimental way) that if this step is missed, the whole thing crumbles and breaks – the resulting rolls are just plain ugly.

The reworked version starts with flattening the bread too.  A ham slice, roughly 2/3 of the bread is placed on the bread, makeing sure that three sides of the bread and ham are aligned.  Place a stick of cheese on the ham, aligning the long edge.  Then roll, beginning on the cheese/ham side.  I found that I didn’t need to secure  the rolls with picks.

ham cheese 1

The rolls were supposed to be toasted in the oven but I was lazy (the toaster oven was out of commission and it was too much trouble to fire up the big oven) so I just used the stovetop grill.

Well, the little girl was happy!  So were our guests!

KFC Original Recipe?

When I was a child, my mother made her own version of the KFC chicken.  I’m sure it was not the real thing, but it was close enough for us.  I eventually found her recipe but it had nowhere near 11 spices!  Even so, I have to admit, I would like to know the secret recipe!  Well then, after all this time, it appears that the secret is out!

According to the Chicago Tribune, the “original” recipe, that closely guarded recipe of KFC, has been unearthed!  A nephew of Col. Sanders, Joe Ledington, claims the original recipe is handwritten in a scrapbook belonging to his late Aunt Claudia (Sanders’ second wife), and that as a child, he worked in Sanders’ cafe.  He alleges that the recipe is authentic, having prepared it as a young lad.  But, he does disclaim the handwriting of the note, saying that it is not that of his aunt.

A snapshot is reproduced in the article and is as follows, with “Ts” representing tablespoons, according to trials conducted by the Chicago Tribune.

11 Spices – Mix With 2 Cups White Fl.

1) 2/3 Ts Salt
2) 1/2 Ts Thyme
3) 1/2 Ts Basil
4) 1/3 Ts Origino (as written)
5) 1 Ts Celery Salt
6) 1 Ts Black Pepper
7) 1 Ts Dried Mustard
8) 4 Ts Paprika
9) 2 Ts Garlic Salt
10) 1 Ts Ground Ginger
11) 3 Ts White Pepper

The procedure was not outlined, but it can be safely assumed that the chicken is dipped in egg (a standard in foods with breading) then in the flour mixture, before deep frying, or pressure-fried.

In the trial that Chicago Tribune made, the chicken was dipped in a buttermilk-egg mix then dipped in the flour-spice mixture, then pressure fried (Ledington says that “It was individually hand-breaded and dropped in those pressure cookers. You cooked it until it started turning brown. And then you put the lid on the pressure cooker and brought it to 12 pounds of pressure for 10 minutes. And then you started letting the pressure off, and when you uncapped it and the pressure was off, it was perfect: golden brown and fall-off-the-bone.”).  An “accidental” sprinkling of Accent (an msg-based flavoring) made the recipe indistinguishable, they say, from the chicken bought from a KFC store.

So, I am off to the market to buy chicken and spices.  As for my planned cooking method, I think I will use the process my mother used since I don’t have a pressure fryer (and have no intentions of buying one!)

Let’s see what I come up with…


Pako Fern Salad

It is the rainy season again, and this means that pako ferns (or fiddleheads) are back in season!  They are best eaten the same day that they are purchased as they deteriorate rather quickly.

00_pako ferns

The pako is traditionally made into a salad.  I used to prepare the salad with the pako raw.  But I’ve since been told (by the market vendor, no less) that the pako ferns, while edible, should be blanched, as they have some form of mild poison.  The market vendor taught me to blanche them briefly in boiling water, just for a few seconds, and then immediately put them in an ice bath.  To dry them, I spin them in a salad spinner.

The recipe:

2 to 3 bundles of pako fern, blanched and chilled
2 large tomatoes, sliced into slivers (seeds removed)
1 large red (Spanish) onion, sliced thinly
2 red (salted) eggs, chopped coarsely
kesong puti, crumbled (or feta)

calamansi vinaigrette, recipe follows

Toss all ingredients, except the kesong puti, together. Chill in the meantime.  Right before serving, toss with the calamansi vinaigrette and garnish with kesong puti.

Other optional ingredient suggestions include cucumbers, slivered green mangoes, and/or garlic chips.

Calamansi Vinaigrette:

1/4 cup native vinegar
juice from 1 large calamansi
1 tbsp. olive oil (optional)
1 to 2 tbsp. crushed mixed peppercorns
2 to 3 pinches of Himalayan pink salt

Place ingredients in a salad dressing shaker (or even a air-tight container) and shake until combined.

Note:  if using regular vinegar, use just 2 tablespoons each of vinegar and water.  Substitute calamansi with lemon if calamansi is not available.


Ampalaya with Salted Egg

If there is one thing I will not eat, it is ampalaya or bitter gourd.  Unfortunately, it is the favorite vegetable of my sweetie!  So, even as I refuse to eat it, I cook it once in a while, if only to make hubby happy!

The usual Filipino way to cook ampalaya is to saute it with scrambled egg/s, but just this once, I wanted something different.  Oh, I still won’t eat it, but at least hubby will be happy with the “new” dish – the Chinese variation of the bitter gourd… with salted egg!  The original is actually made with salted egg yolks.  But really now, what would I do with the egg whites?  Might as well throw them into the mix too!

The recipe –

1 large ampalaya
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks of leeks, sliced diagonally, white and green parts separated
2 pieces salted egg, mashed
pinch of sugar and white pepper, optional

First of all, prepare the ampalaya by cutting in half lengthwise then slicing horizontally into thin slices.  Rub with salt and let stand a few minutes then rinse (this is to lessen the bitterness somewhat).  Meanwhile, heat the wok and add some oil.

Saute the garlic and the white part of the leeks then add the mashed salted eggs.  Stir fry until the mixture is bubbly and messy-looking.  Add in the ampalaya slices; mix until the ampalaya is coated with the salted egg mixture.  Add the pinch of sugar and white pepper, if using.

Cook until the ampalaya slices are soft.  If the mixture gets too dry, add some hot water by tablespoonfuls.

Serve garnished with the green part of the leeks.




“The Baked Brownie”

Yes, that is the title of the recipe in Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito’s book “Baked:  New Frontiers in Baking”.  I’d been reading a lot about their brownies and how it is THE brownie even connoisseurs like.

The recipe had been on my list for a while but for some reason or another, it was only today that I finally decided to try it once and for all!

Ok, obviously I did not follow the recipe to the letter, but my deviation is only as to form and not substance.


I used a silicone “fairy cake” pan (shallow round cavities) to make brownie rounds.

And I added some peanut butter chips to some of the rounds (because I looove peanut butter…)


I discovered something else, too!  The brownie rounds were absolutely heavenly straight out of the freezer!

How did I find this out?  Well, I tried to get the brownie rounds out of the silicone pan after they cooled.  But it was tough to get out (even if the pan was made of silicone, hence non-stick), and bits of brownie were sticking!  So I thought of freezing the pans a while; after that the brownie rounds popped right out.  And because I couldn’t wait, I ate one.  And realized that the frozen brownies were just fantastic!

(so now they are stored in the freezer.)

The recipe is all over the internet (I have the book, though!) and there’s even a spicy version of it (will try that one next time, because hubby loves spicy foods).


Tess’ Elvis

I have to admit, I am not at all an adventure-seeking eater.  But I am willing to try most foods at least once.  And while a lot of people are banana-lovers, I am not one of them, unless we are talking of the fried banana (saba) or turon.

But I tried a concoction of Tess recently… her version of the Elvis.  The Elvis is a grilled sandwich composed of toast, peanut butter, sliced or mashed bananas and bacon.  But Tess’s version is with ham instead of bacon.

Sylvia and I were skeptical at first – toast, peanut butter, bananas and ham?  Initially we found the combination unusual…

00_ibs n elvis

But one bite and we were bowled over!

We wanted more!  This version has the ham in the middle of the peanut butter and banana slices…

00_Tess elvis

Love, love, love it!


Chinese-style Adobo

Adobo is the unofficial national dish of the Philippines.  But there are a thousand and one ways to make it – it seems that every one of my countrymen has his own family recipe for it.  Add to that a subculture, such as mine and another form of adobo is born!  But, how it could be legitimately called an adobo dish, I don’t really know!  For one thing, the dish does not have a drop of vinegar in it!

My recipe –

1 kilo pork belly, sliced into cubes (rinsed and cleaned)
12 to 20 pieces dried Chinese mushroom, rehydrated
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 pieces dried chili
2 pieces star anise
2 tablespoons each oyster sauce, thick soya sauce, light soya sauce, and dried mushroom soaking liquid
additional soy sauce, optional
1-1/2 to 2 cups water, or just enough to cover the pork

Sauté the garlic until soft and fragrant.  Add the dried chili and star anise.  Stir fry several seconds.  Put in the sauces (take care the mixture may sizzle) then put in the pork cubes.  Stir the mixture around until the pork is fully coated in the sauce.

Put in mushrooms and water.  Simmer until the pork is tender.  Adjust the seasonings.  After all, various brands of seasonings have different formulations and differences in tastes.

(In my case, I use my magic cooker – thermal cooker – and leave it overnight.)

The recipe has no salt (but feel free to add to yours if you so desire) because when I cook for my mom, I avoid adding salt as much as I can.

Final note – the recipe I found in my mother’s recipe files originally specified 2 tablespoons of brown sugar.  I substituted it with the thick soya sauce, which has a sweetish profile.





Honey Corn Muffins

These muffins are dense and moist.  If you are looking for corn muffins such as those at Kenny Rogers, these are not it.  It does not mean, though, that these muffins are not delicious because they are!  The proof is that the little girl loves them!

The recipe:

3/4 cup cornmeal
1-1/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup each corn oil and melted butter
2 eggs
1/4 cup drained corn “juice” (or milk if using fresh corn)
1/2 cup yogurt
1 cup corn kernels, drained
1/2 cup diced red bell peppers, optional

Preheat oven to 375F.  Brush oil or melted butter in about 24 mini-muffin cups.

Combine the dry ingredients.  Make a well in the center and add honey, oil, melted butter, eggs, corn juice, and yogurt.  Stir until just combined.  Fold in corn kernels and diced peppers, if using.

Fill the muffin tin to almost full.  Bake 22 to 28 minutes, or until the edges of the muffins are lightly browned.

The muffins are best right out of the oven!





Chicken ala King

While I fell in love with baking at age 10, I did not like cooking until after I finished high school.  Maybe it had something to do with the saying that there cannot be two queens in a castle.  My mother had strict rules in the kitchen – the proper way to slice onions, tomatoes and everything else.  I was more carefree – after all, I was not racing to be the best chef!

My love for cooking began with a special dish – Chicken ala King!

chicken king 1

I learned the recipe from a crash course my mother forced upon me after my high school graduation.  My siblings love it so much that I made it every week!


2-3 chicken breasts
1 small onion
1 small tomato
1 small thumb of ginger

coarsely chopped garlic and onions
1 large potato, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
1 cup sliced mushrooms (fresh variety preferred)
1/4 cup frozen green peas
pimiento (canned variety), diced
1 cup all purpose cream
salt and pepper to taste
dash nutmeg

Boil the chicken breasts with ginger, onion and tomato.  Debone chicken and dice. Strain the broth and set aside.

Saute the onion and garlic. Add the diced chicken, potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, peas, and pimiento. Add the reserved broth, just enough to cover all ingredients. Simmer until vegetables are done. Pour in the cream and heat through, stirring constantly. Do not boil. Season to taste. Thicken with cornstarch water. Sprinkle a dash of nutmeg (a little goes a long way!) Serve in patty shells (I buy the patty shells from French Baker)

I have not stopped cooking since then!