Monthly Archives: May 2006

very special achara

(pickled green papaya)


adapted from my old faded soft cover Lutuing Pilipino ni Aling Charing

we had our first cook-out of the summer season, and of course pork sticks are tops on the menu. had to have some atsarang papaya, but these are espesyal.

1 small green papaya, peeled, seeded and shredded in the coarse holes of the box grater

1/2 cucumber, cubed

1/4 cup sliced carrots

1/4 cup total thinly sliced red and green peppers

2-inch knob of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

1 biggish shallot, sliced cross-wise thinly

1/2 head of garlic, peeled, crushed

1 handful of raisins

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup white or cane vinegar

1-2 tsps. salt

slightly crushed peppercorns, if desired

soak the papaya in two teaspoons of salt for at least 15 minutes in a fine-meshed colander. rinse and drain, then squeeze out excess water. mix with all the other vegetables and raisins. press into a jar with tight fitting lid.
mix the sugar, vinegar, peppercorns, if using, and salt in a saucepan over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. turn off heat and let cool completely. pour syrup into the jar and cover tightly. should be ready in two days but i couldn’t wait and had some right away…

[these are also good with grated white radish, salted and rinsed the same way as the papaya.  julienned green onions or scallions also make it zestier and tastier.]

pastel de tres leches

super sweet sticky meringue icing

…de señor Rodrigo, para su maestra de Español. (apologies, mi Español es rusty! i think it should be torta instead of pastel?)

#1son handed me a recipe from his Spanish teacher, who calls him “Rodrigo.” the mission: bake, fill, and ice this cake, following the recipe from Patricia Quintana. it was for their end-of-school-year celebration.
now i have seen many versions of this cake, mainly from foodnetwork (foodfinds? or the dessert guy w/ the dreadlocks? aha! this guy). i would have rather made it just like flyingcake’s simply lovely multi-layered version but “Rodrigo” insisted that i follow Señora S.’s recipe strictly. a sturdy sponge cake, poked all over with a very thin skewer–like the metal barbecue skewers one finds in some kitchen stores–which i never visit by the way 😉 — soaked with a filling made of condensed and evaporated milks and table cream, then iced with a meringue that reminded daughter of melted marshmallows.
“Rodrigo” made the batter for the cake but his schedule and homework dictated that i do the tres leches filling and meringue icing.

it is truly creamy and moist, very sweet yet somehow enjoyably so especially if you can manage a strawberry (mango or kiwi might go as well) with each bite, but! the proportions are all wrong: a one layer cake with too much filling and icing left over.
two thumbs up, but make a two layer cake (such as this) instead of the single 12 by 8 inch cake called for
(i couldn’t find a pan this size so i used an 11 by 7 pyrex rectangle).

no raw fish this time…

i have aches and pains, eyes have gotten worse, hair has gotten sparse, i got “long in the tooth,” gone to seed, etc. and saggy baggy everywhere else.

but i feel content, dare i say? cautiously content, ever the pessimist who hopes for the best while expecting the worst. another birthday? you want a piece of me?! bring it on!

i was given the choice of my favorite Japanese or Thai restaurant but ultimately i regifted to my children and picked this large franchise-chain–heavy-on-the-cowboy-ambience-eatery so my kiddies would enjoy the dinner as much as i…

very very loud, peanut shells all over the floor, and if they find out it’s your birthday they make you sit on a saddle and everyone in the dining room must yell, “hee haw!”

(i threatened husband, so he was mum.)

appetizer platter of chicken tenders, tater skins, and rattle snake bites which i adored (jalapeño peppers stuffed with jack cheese, breaded and deep fried. so sinfull…)

more sins: a 10 oz. prime rib smothered with onions and mushrooms and i chose a lovely salt-encrusted baked potato drowning in chili and cheddar cheese. i must have more of that! the steak came medium rare as ordered and it was like buttah…entrees come with a choice of two sides (choose from baked potatoes, fries, vegetables, applesauce…you know, Western Hemisphere sides. i also chose Caesar’s salad and it was rich with anchovy and garlic flavors).

the valiant husband had sirloin steak and ribs combo, #1son had a bacon cheddar burger, and the two kids had mini steak “kid” versions.

it was a blast, although #2son said he found it too loud and startling whenever they did the “hee haw” gimmick (there were three other birthday celebrants last night!)

i decided to go for it and have a huge salt-rimmed bowl of frozen margarita. happiness! very tart and slushy, although it needed some more tequila (i’ll make some at home with my new blender–my loot for this milestone).

thank you thank you thank you thank you. Continue reading

raised waffles

this i recommend for a leisurely planned weekend breakfast/brunch, for when you want to wake up your beloveds with the scent of freshly cooked hot waffles. i always swore by buttermilk recipes, having tried just once with raised (yeasted) waffles but this one from the Boston Globe food section was touted as THE ONE to try…

so i did, and it’s a keeper. (didn’t tell the kids it has beer in the batter.)
i used Dr. Oetker’s instant yeast–the kind that you add to the dry ingredients without need for proofing. so i had to change the procedure. (proof in warm–110F–cup of water first if you have active dry yeast)

this recipe makes 12 waffles but they freeze well! just ask E-g-g-o.

start this the night before you intend to serve.

1 cup water

2 &1/2 cups whole milk

1 cup unsalted butter

2 tsps. instant yeast, such as Dr. Oetker or SAF

1 & 1/2 tsps. salt

2 tsps. sugar

4 cups flour

8 eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 cup brown ale

stir water, milk, butter in saucepan until warmed up to about 110F.

mix yeast, flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. stir in liquid ingredients. (or proof active dry yeast in 1 cup water, mix to dissolve, then let stand for 5 minutes. mix milk and butter in saucepan to warm, then add flour, sugar, salt). cover with plastic wrap and let sit overnight at room temperature.

turn on the waffle iron. set the oven at 200F.

in a bowl, whisk together the eggs, baking soda, and ale. stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture and mix just until all ingredients are incorporated. do not overbeat.

when the iron is hot pour about 3/4 cup batter onto the iron. lower the lid, and cook the waffles for 3-6 minutes or until they are crisp, golden and cooked through.

transfer to a baking sheet, keep warm in the oven until the remaining waffles are cooked.

–original recipe from The Culinary Institute of America Breakfasts and Brunches, tested by the Boston Globe.

serve with whipped cream and sliced strawberries or strawberry jam, or chocolate syrup, or like i did, with mustard and sliced hot dogs, or as thess of eet smakelijk suggested, a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

rag tags….

and cat casserole?

“Anna Maria,” said the old man rat (whose name was Samuel Whiskers),–“Anna Maria, make me a kitten dumpling roly-poly pudding for my dinner.”

“It requires dough and a pat of butter, and a rolling pin,” said Anna Maria, considering Tom Kitten with her head on one side.

“No,” said Samuel Whiskers, “make it properly, Anna Maria, with breadcrumbs.”

–Beatrix Potter.

nothing to cook! :) just taking a break, these to-do meme’s might go untagged too long and that’d be too bad, cause they’re kind of fun.

and i promise not to serve kitten dumpling roly poly pudding to my taggers….

ten simple pleasures tag from atinna of tokyokuni:

smell of newborn babies’ breath

sage green baby buds of the deciduous trees in springtime

memory of someone at the bus stop, waiting for me with an umbrella, in the monsoon

smooth traffic with no one cursing at me for nothing

lambing…a Tagalog word with no direct English translation i can think of

kids’ calling “mama! mama!” but not in distress

smell of onion, garlic and tomatoes sauteeing

first bite out of a freshly-baked cookie

cats’ newly groomed fur–after they’ve licked themselves clean they smell like soap!

a clean bill of health after all my check-ups…sign of old age, impending

JMom’s tag of how-well-do-you-know-me fours:

four jobs you’ve had:

physician’s secretary/receptionist, NYC

Famous Book Club’s marketing dept. secretary/go fer, NYC

teacher/trainer, refugee center

youth counselor/advocate, Boston

four places you’ve lived in your life:

Diliman, Quezon City

Upstate New York

Woodside, Queens

a mountaintop in Bataan
four movies you could watch over and over:

Pride and Prejudice (mini series, the one with Colin Firth)

Bridget Jones 1 & 2

A Room with a View

Love, Actually (edited, March 2013)

four tv shows you love to watch:

Lost, ABC Wednesdays

No Reservations, Anthony Bourdain, Mondays on Travel Channel

Masterpiece Theater and Mystery!

Saturday Night, Live!

four places you have been on vacation:

Reims, France

Florence, Italy

Boracay, P.I.

Sagada, Mt. Province

four of your favorite foods (random, plucked off the top of my head):



sans rival

bibimbop anything

four things you’d rather be doing right now:

*wink* i’ll give you one guess for this #1 thing i’d rather be doing right now…SWIMMING LAPS!

floating face up in the warm waters of a beach on Boracay Island (still alive, w/ someone else on the lookout for sharks and jellyfish)
having a San Miguel with a platter of tahong and bbq sticks at Trellis, Matalino St. corner Kalayaan ave….

on a Eurorail vacation with my husby and kids

four things you always carry around

sense of curiosity (usyosa daw eh)


cell phone

bottle of water

four friends i’m tagging…



Pinay in Barnsley…she’s now Pinay in Kasbah, Boracay 😆 7 Mar.2013

my friend Flicka…

(optional!!! only if you want to)

potato-cheese-pepper poppers

another one from my realm of “must try” recipes…it’s a wonder i remember where they are! this blog will at least help me keep organized somewhat better. *wishful thinking*.
from Saveur November 2002, a latke recipe which so intrigued me (“it won an award for ‘best multicultural inspiration’ in Mummert’s competition, 2001″ ). crispy fried potatoes wrapped around a melty cheese center, like a strange beer food, so i just couldn’t pass it by. i only changed it a bit, using panko bread crumbs instead of matzo meal and pickled pepperoncini, Pastene brand, instead of fresh jalapeno peppers.

you’re on your own in finding a cute cheese grater.

3/4 cup grated orange cheddar

3/4 cup grated Monterey jack

1/3 cup cream cheese

5 medium yukon gold or 4 medium russet potatoes, peeled

2 eggs, beaten

3 scallions, trimmed, and finely chopped

3 pickled pepperoncini peppers, stemmed, finelly chopped ( or 1-2 jalapeno, stemmed, seeded, chopped)

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs (or matzo meal)

1/4 cup vegetable stock

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

vegetable oil for pan frying.

1. put cheddar, monterey jack and cream cheese into the bowl of a food processor and process until well-combined and smooth, 1-2 minutes. divide cheese mixture into 12 equal portions, roll each between the palms of your hands into a ball, then flatten into a 1&1/2 inch disk. transfer cheese disks to a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator until firm, about 30 minutes.

2. grate potatoes on the large holes of a box grater. working with small handfuls at a time, squeeze out moisture from potatoes and transfer potatoes to a large bowl. add eggs, scallions, jalapeno peppers, matzo meal and stock, season to taste with salt and pepper, and stir until well combined.

3. pour oil into a large deep skillet to a depth of 1&1/2 inches and heat over medium heat until hot but not smoking. working in batches, shape 1/4 cup of the potato mixture into a 3” loose disk, put 1 cheese disk in center, and fold potato mixture up and around disk, completely enclosing cheese disk with the potato mixture. fry in hot oil, turning once until golden brown and crisp on the outside, 5-7 minutes per batch. transfer latke poppers with a slotted spatula to paper towels to drain. season to taste with salt if you like.

the chef, Larry Oxman, serves these with a mixture of sour cream and mango chutney. we enjoyed them as is.

sans rival….

my annual attempt at sans rival…

=almond meringue gateau= dacquoise.

i think sans rival is the best name, for it means no contest, no equal… beyond compare?

i went out on a “date” of sorts last night.

#1son, asked to pick a parent to bring to the School Committee meeting where he would be given an award, picked me. he picked me! he picked me! he didn’t want to bring his two younger sibs and one parent had to stay home with them. he shook hands with the mayor.

very bad shot, i was shaking like a leaf and twice pressed the on/off button instead of the shutter…(mayor in tan suit, sonny in white tucked out oxford shirt)
forgive me, i just am bursting with pride and i have no other outlet but here…Chinese way, we must not boast or brag. and #1son shot virtual daggers at me at the mama’s day banquet for bringing the newspaper clipping to show his extended family. oops. this Pinay mama sat on her hands to keep from bursting out in song and dance. i just reminded myself i should not embarrass him in front of his peers….

he wanted some cookies or cake as a reward :)

i found this recipe in Anne Willan’s “Perfect Desserts,” one of a series of luxuriously illustrated paperback cookbooks (i have 7 of the little things). this is the one recipe i will work on from this moment on, because it yields a family-size cake of crunchy texture and creamy buttercream icing. it still needs tweaking because the original method calls for 250F at 40-50 minutes but i had to extend that and ultimately increase the oven temp. result: heavenly!

i have attempted so many times and once in a while i chicken out and make schwarzwalder torte instead (which my kids adore anyway, for its chocolate coating and whipped cream icing).

the pistachio embellishment is an idea from lori’s dessert comes first which truly pushed me to try and bake this again despite the fact that it calls for quite a lot of baking equipment, counter, sink and dishwasher real-estate…my version is quite… er homey. homely? heehee.

1. make the nut meringue:

prepare the baking sheets: brush 3 baking sheets with melted butter and line them with parchment paper. butter the paper and sprinkle it with flour, discarding the excess. with your finger or the tip of a chopstick, trace a circle using an upturned 8-inch cake pan as a guide.

toast 2 cups almonds–whole or slivered– (or cashews, pistachios, or hazelnuts) in the oven for 12- 15 minutes (rub the hazelnuts, if using with a clean cloth towel to remove the skins). (for this recipe i toasted and chopped 1/2 cup pistachios separately for decorating the cake)

in the workbowl of a food processor, put 3/4 cup granulated sugar together with the almonds and pulse until coarsely ground. (do not overwork or they will turn pasty). transfer to a bowl and stir in 2 tbsps. cornstarch.

put 6 egg whites in the metal bowl of electric mixer and beat until stiff peaks form. sprinkle in 3/4 cup granulated sugar and continue beating until glossy to make a light meringue. fold in nut/cornstarch mixture in three batches, gently so meringue stays light.
2. bake the meringue rounds.

heat the oven to 300F. divide the nut meringue evenly among the circles and spread it out with a metal spatula inside the marked lines to make 3 even, flat disks. (or pipe with a pastry bag and plain tip).

bake the nut meringue rounds in the heated oven, rotating the baking sheets occasionally (or use the convection mode) until the rounds are all lightly browned and feel dry to the touch, about 40-50 minutes.

remove the baking sheets from the oven. while the meringue is still warm, trim the edges with a small serrated knife, using the cake pan as a guide. carefully peel off the paper, transfer meringue rounds to a wire rack and cool completely.

3. make the butter cream

put 2/3 cup water and 3/4 cup granulated sugar in a saucepan and stir until dissolved over medium heat. stop stirring and let it boil up into a syrup to the soft ball stage (239F in the candy thermometer, or as thick as corn syrup but not golden brown yet).

while the syrup is boiling, beat 6 egg yolks in a large bowl just until mixed.

with the mixer running at medium high speed, gradually pour the hot syrup in a thin steady stream, beating constantly. (avoid hitting the metal beaters so the syrup won’t spin out in threads.)
continue beating at medium-high speed until the mixture is cool and forms a thick mousse, about 5 minutes.

cream 1& 1/2 sticks unsalted butter in a medium bowl and beat with an electric mixer or wooden spoon until it is smooth and creamy.

gradually add the butter to the cool egg mousse and beat to combine.

beat in up to 3 tbsps. amaretto (i used just 1 tbsp.; alternatively use kirsch), depending on your taste.


you may trim the meringues to perfect little 8-inch rounds. i just set one round on my serving plate, spread 1/4 of the buttercream, then repeat with the next two rounds. use the remaining buttercream to frost the top and sides.

(my assistant pastry chef got a bit carried away and used up a lot of the frosting on the top! but boy did he have fun.)

we decorated the top with chopped toasted pistachio nuts for some green. a celebratory cake! #1son said it was so good it was baaaaad.

bonus photo: jackjack looking alarmed while i was belting out in song while cooking. #2son hid upstairs!



an old man turned ninety-eight
he won the lottery and died the next day
it’s a black fly in your Chardonnay
It’s a death row pardon two minutes too late
and isn’t it ironic…dontcha think
it’s like rain on your wedding day
it’s a free ride when you’ve already paid
it’s the good advice that you just didn’t take
who would’ve thought…it figures
mr. Play It Safe was afraid to fly
he packed his suitcase and kissed his kids goodbye
he waited his whole damn life to take that flight
and as the plane crashed down he thought “Well isn’t this nice…”
and isn’t it ironic…dontcha think
it’s like rain on your wedding day
it’s a free ride when you’ve already paid
it’s the good advice that you just didn’t take
who would’ve thought…it figures
well life has a funny way of sneaking up on you
when you think everything’s okay and everything’s going right
and life has a funny way of helping you out
when you think everything’s gone wrong and everything blows up In your face
a traffic jam when you’re already late
a no-smoking sign on your cigarette break
it’s like ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife
it’s meeting the man of my dreams
and then meeting his beautiful wife
and isn’t it ironic…dontcha think
a little too ironic…and yeah I really do think…
it’s like rain on your wedding day
it’s a free ride when you’ve already paid
it’s the good advice that you just didn’t take Who would’ve thought…it figures
life has a funny way of sneaking up on you
life has a funny, funny way of helping you out
helping you out

-alanis morrisette

this has been preying on my brain since i heard it again on the radio a couple of weeks ago. i don’t know, i just totally relate to the lyrics (kahit di ako mahilig sa yodeling style ni Alanis…pero magaling sana siyang umawit at ang mga salita’y makahulugan. tinatamaan me).

thank you for all the mummy day greetings, friends and neighbors!

i will be visiting you today…i want to soak in some warm friendly vibes because…
it’s a grey, gloomy, raining-cats-and-dogs kind of day…it’s been like this for the past week, and will be so for this week. i joked my #2son, let’s start the ark in the backyard!, it’s been that bad.

we didn’t go out for mummy day Sunday –husband and i were too preoccupied in the acquisition of a new old car for the kids, that we forgot to reserve our brunch buffet seats! anyway it would have been too gimmicky and crowded so we took a literal raincheck and will go next weekend. when it’s drier, i wish.

i requested husband to buy a box of cannolis ( i love the pistachio, my kids the chocolate chip-dipped) from the Italian pastry shop. craving calzone he got me an Italian-cold-cut-and-cheese-filled half, but sadly it was way too salty. bad for this old mother.

anyhow, MaMa, the kids’ Chinese paternal grandmother, eherm Mom in Law, took us out Saturday evening for a sumptuous and i mean sumptuous 16-course dinner (of course i counted heehee). there was a raucous wedding anniversary party of grey-haired Asian-Americans right next to us, but i thought it was sweet and we watched them being teased to kiss and hug.

lobster with ginger and scallion, chicken with broccoli, shrimps saute, scallops, roast duck, beef with oyster sauce, and at center, my favorite that night, a hot pot of fish fillets with soft tofu.

take out boxes, this is just half of it! we were seated with the kiddies, who were distracted and didn’t eat much. hehehe you know what that means.

great food! we haven’t been here before (although it used to be the Family’s favorite when it was “Golden Palace” around the time i just arrived in Boston) and it’s a bit cramped and noisy when there are parties.
i won’t have to cook much this week 😉

Big Fish, 18-20 Tyler Street, Chinatown, Boston.

Fratelli’s Pastry Shop, Southern Artery, Quincy (next to Quincy Police Department), near the cemetery.

a gift for all

a stay-at-home mom’s value has been tallied up to $134,000+ a year ($151,000+ in my area!). a working mom’s, $84,000+ in addition to her out-of-home work salary. ooooohh. mind boggling numbers. chauffeur, personal chef, housekeeper, psychologist/counselor, personal care assistant, nanny, animal keeper, chief-executive officer, among many other job positions.

as if!

it can all be boiled down to a dollar amount? hmph.

we all know one can’t put a price on it, right?! i think mommyhood and/or having a mommy’s loving presence in one’s life is just, well…priceless.
so i give the mommies and those with the heart of a mommy, or the mommy figures of one’s life– my generous nurturing friends , both male and female–this recipe for this Hallmark moment of a holiday.

i’d been flirting with dacquoise and trifle and torte recipes to make for my next experiment, like say, my annual attempt at making sans rival. but i found this little cut-out from the bag of Domino’s dark brown sugar i’ve been saving all this time and decided to bake it again before i lose it. the last time i made it i had only one child, and we both loved it, and i gained a deep respect for the “back of the box” recipes–they are, after all, tried and tested. most important of all it will make your kiddies’ mouths and chins all chocolatey and sweet and cute…
my gift to the mommies, an easy and chocolate-chippy recipe that won’t require too much counter space and entail too much clean up. happy mothers’ day!

chocolate chip bars Continue reading

treacle treacle

…as in Lyle’s golden syrup.

Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Rosie’s Celebrations cookbook includes a recipe for gingerbread cake, a lovely moist and spicy cake of English descent that calls for Lyle’s, and that is how i got introduced.

(her picture’s on the cardboard collar touting her pecan pie recipe.)

treacly: adj. Cloyingly sweet or sentimental. it’s negative if you refer to a movie or a book, but i don’t care, i like sweet romantic sentimental stories.

it has gotten better, with a new pour spout in a squeezable plastic bottle. the can was quaint and antique-y. pouring from it gives you sticky and gooey fingers as it runs down the sides.
i’ve been meaning to bake this tart( i’d read about it in countless novels–Dickens? Wodehouse?–) ever since the issue came out (Bon Appetit special London issue, May 1998). it’s taken me that long! i finally had the 9-in tart pan i’d been searching for.
but i was down to the last 1/3 of a can of syrup, and for the life of me, couldn’t find any, anywhere.

almost panicked. inevitably i’d find myself roaming up and down the grocery aisles searching, searching, in the last few minutes before i had to be at the bus stop to pick up my #2son.

finally there it was! where it used to be in the “international foods” aisle, now it was in the “baking needs.”

i had to stop myself from bouncing.

the recipe is from Fergus Henderson of St. John, London. a food processor makes easy work of both the crust and filling. i think it’s just perfect with the strawberries now overflowing in the grocery bin baskets at the supermarket.
it is also Harry Potter’s favorite dessert, according to 1&onlydaughter.

the chilled crust, lined with foil and topped with pie weights

baking this tart kept me away from the latest Anne Tyler novel. i just don’t have big chunks of time to read anymore, otherwise i’d have been done by now.

delicious and not at all cloyingly sweet, tart and lemony and perfectly foiled by the almonds in the crust and the strawberries on top.

(i overbaked the crust. i was too engrossed reading nunu’s mum’s account of her trip to Boracay.)

the recipe for treacle tart… Continue reading