March 31, 2011


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Food Friday

Banana-cue is a favorite Filipino street food made with cooking bananas called saba. Despite its name, banana-cue is not grilled; they are deep-fried with brown sugar and skewered in bamboo sticks for portability. I prefer banana-cue cooked until the sugar caramelizes and becomes hard and brittle.

6 ripe firm saba bananas, or ripe plantains
2 cups light olive or grapeseed oil
¼ cup dark brown sugar
small skewers
  • Heat oil in a medium pan or wok and fry bananas for 2 minutes. Add brown sugar and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 to 3 more minutes or until sugar has caramelized and bananas are evenly coated. Skewer each banana and serve immediately while still warm and crunchy.

March 28, 2011

Cherry Blossom Friendship Cake

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Cherry Blossom Friendship Cake
cherry flavored 2-layer sponge cake decorated with fresh yoshino cherry blossoms and the word friendship written in Kanji

The annual National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C is now on since March 26 until April 10. There are several events but the most popular activity is walking along the tidal basin to ooh and aah at the cherry blossoms. I've seen the spectacular blooms just once in 1992 but never went back to avoid the huge crowd that descends on the district the entire 2 weeks. Besides getting pushed and stepped on by tourists and tripping on exposed roots, finding a parking space is nearly impossible unless you drive there at 6 in the morning.

Cherry Blossoms Along Tidal Basin

Instead of going to Washington, D.C. to join the festivities, I am celebrating at home by watching my favorite Japanese and anime movies (Seven Samurai, Ghost in the Shell, Akira, Gojoe, etc.) and making sushi and onigiri. And to thank the Japanese people for this beautiful gift to the U S of A, I baked a cherry flavored sponge layer cake decorated with cherry blossoms from my tree. The buds aren't in full bloom yet as it is still early; they will be on the second week of April. I cut some of the lower branches and forced the buds to open indoors. I wrote "friendship" in Kanji, the design and idea I got from A WORLD OF CAKE although I did not follow the cake recipe in the book. You can use your favorite layer cake recipe and words of your choice written in Kanji.

Cherry Blossom Friendship Cake
sponge cake
6 eggs
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons milk
a few drops of natural cherry flavor
a few drops of red or pink food dye
1½ cups cake flour, sifted

creamy cherry frosting

fresh or candy flowers
brown and black writing icing tubes
  • Line two 8-inch round pans with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350°F. In the bowl of a standing mixer with paddle attachment, beat eggs on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add sugar and beat on high until pale yellow in color and mixture has thickened. Add milk, cherry flavor, and food dye and mix well. Continue beating on low while slowly adding flour. Mix until smooth and creamy. Pour into the prepared pans and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until cake test is done. Remove from pans and let cool on wire rack. For the frosting, omit vanilla and add a few drops of pink food dye and cherry flavor to the Creamy Vanilla Frosting. Remove parchment paper, fill, and frost the cake. Decorate with fresh edible or candy flowers.
Cherry Blossom Friendship Cake
I think there are too many flowers growing on the cake (^_^)

These are old photos of my cherry tree in full bloom

Spring in Ashburn
Yoshino Cherry Blossoms

March 27, 2011

Daring Bakers: Meringue Coffee Cake

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Meringue Coffee Cake
yeast coffee cake filled with meringue, garam masala, cashew nuts, and chocolate chips

The March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Jamie of Life’s a Feast and Ria of Ria’s Collection. Ria and Jamie challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake.

Thank you Ria and Jamie for a delightful challenge. The sweet and delicious yeast coffee cake is a pleasure to make and to eat. The dough is very easy to work with and the soft fluffy moist cake resembles brioche but with less butter and eggs. I specially loved the crispy chewy nougat-like meringue that oozed out while baking. I didn't make any changes to Ria's dough and filling recipes, except for the additional spice (bay leaf) in the garam masala.

Meringue Coffee Cake
Ria's version

4 cups bread flour
¼ cup sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
2 ¼ teaspoons active dried yeast
¾ cup whole milk
¼ cup water
½ cup unsalted butter at room temperature
2 large eggs at room temperature
10 strands saffron

3 large egg whites at room temperature
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ cup sugar

1 cup chopped cashew nuts
2 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon garam masala
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

egg wash
1 beaten egg

confectioner's sugar
  • Prepare the dough: In a large mixing bowl, combine 1½ cups of the flour, the sugar, salt and yeast. In a saucepan, combine the milk, water and butter and heat over medium heat until warm and the butter is just melted. Add the 10 saffron threads to the warmed liquid and allow to steep off of the heat for 10 minutes. This will give the mixture a distinct aroma and flavor and a yellowish-orange hue. With an electric mixer on low speed, gradually add the warm liquid to the flour/yeast mixture, beating until well blended. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes. Add the eggs and 1 cup flour and beat for 2 more minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a dough that holds together. Turn out onto a floured surface (use any of the 1½ cups of flour remaining) and knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes until the dough is soft, smooth, sexy and elastic, keeping the work surface floured and adding extra flour as needed. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let rise until double in bulk, 45 – 60 minutes. The rising time will depend on the type of yeast you use.
  • Once the dough has doubled, make the meringue: In the mixing bowl of stand mixer with whisk attachment, beat the egg whites with the salt on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to high and continue beating until foamy and opaque. Add the vanilla then start adding the ½ cup sugar, a tablespoon at a time as you beat, until very stiff, glossy peaks form.
  • Prepare the filling: Mix the sugar with the garam masala.
  • Assemble the Coffee Cakes: Line 2 baking/cookie sheets with parchment paper. Lightly knead the dough and divide in half. On a lightly floured surface, working one piece of the dough at a time (keep the other half of the dough wrapped in plastic), roll out the dough into a 20 x 10-inch rectangle. Spread half of the meringue evenly over the rectangle up to about ½ inch from the edges. Sprinkle half of the sugar/garam masala mixture, half of the nuts, and half of the chocolate chips evenly over the meringue. Roll up the dough jellyroll style, from the long side. Pinch the seam closed to seal. Very carefully transfer the filled log to one of the lined cookie sheets, seam side down.
Meringue Coffee Cake
  • Bring the ends of the log around and seal the ends together, forming a ring, tucking one end into the other and pinching to seal. Using kitchen scissors, make cuts along the outside edge at 1-inch intervals. Make them as shallow or as deep as desired but don’t be afraid to cut deep into the ring. Repeat with the remaining dough, meringue and fillings. Cover the 2 coffee cakes with plastic wrap and allow them to rise again for 45 to 60 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350°F . Brush the tops of the coffee cakes with the egg wash. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until risen and golden brown. The dough should sound hollow when tapped. Remove from the oven and slide the parchment paper off the cookie sheets onto the table. Very gently loosen the coffee cakes from the paper with a large spatula and carefully slide the cakes off onto cooling racks. Allow to cool. Just before serving, dust the tops of the coffee cakes with confectioner’s sugar.
I was inspired by the beautiful cakes with savory fillings on the DB forum and made individual cakes/buns filled with Spanish sausages, blanched baby spinach, roasted red bell peppers, and scrambled egg. The sweet and salty buns are perfect for Sunday brunch.

Savory Coffee Cake Buns
filled with fresh butifarra sausage, roasted bell pepper, spinach, and scrambled egg

March 20, 2011

I ♥ Vegetables Lunch Menu

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Crispy Sweet Potato Greens with Sisig Yogurt Dip
crispy fried sweet potato tops and sisig yogurt dip

I got so excited when I found out that Mimi and Erika had chosen vegetables for this month's Kulinarya Cooking Club challenge. Thank you ladies for the opportunity to show that vegetable dishes are a big part of Filipino cuisine. Growing up in the Philippines, my mom always served a vegetable side dish for dinner and we had tofu at least once a week. We were not health freaks, we just loved tofu and plenty of vegeatbles.

When I created this blog I promised to cook vegetarian dishes at least 3 times a week and keep a record of what I cook by writing about it. But along the way I got seduced by the abundance of mouth watering meat recipes from cookbooks and food sites, I rarely blog about the vegetable dishes I cook. For this challenge I didn't want to write about Filipino vegetable dishes that are already on my recipe page such as pinakbet, rellenong talong, ampalaya, and laing. I went to the Asian grocery store and got lots of vegetables and came up with several dishes but couldn't decide which one to feature because I liked all of them. Some of the dishes are simple and uncomplicated to prepare yet so satisfying, I thought why not put the ones I really love on one post as a lunch menu.

Welcome to Oggi's Housetaurant

Today's Lunch Special: Vegetables

Crispy Sweet Potato Greens and Fries with Sisig Yogurt Dip
Sweet Potato Crisps with Sisig Yogurt Dip
crispy sweet potato tops and fries served with yogurt and sisig seasoning dip

Tomato and Kesong Puti Salad
Tomatoes and Kesong Puti
tomatoes (cherry, Roma, Kumato) and farmer's white cheese
with pinakurat vinaigrette dressing

Baked Stuffed Upo
Stuffed Upo
bottle gourd halves stuffed with sauteed garlic, onions,
tomatoes, and seitan chorizos

Candied Kundol (Winter Melon)
candied winter gourd

The Recipes

Sweet Potato Tops Appetizer
1 cup plain Greek-style yogurt
4 tablespoons sisig (or adobo) seasoning powder
2 tablespoons whole milk
sweet potato greens
2 cups light olive oil
  • Mix yogurt, sisig powder, and milk until smooth. Refrigerate while frying potato tops. Cut off potato tops with scissors. Wash, spin dry, and pat dry visible moisture with paper towel. Heat oil and fry tops in batches. Drain on paper towels. Serve immediately with yogurt dip.
Other vegetable suggestions to deep-fry: fresh pepper leaves [taste nutty], baby spinach, kale, baby artichokes; raw vegetables for dipping: baby zucchini, carrots, and cherry tomatoes.

Tomatoes and Kesong Puti Salad
ripe firm tomatoes, well chilled
crumbled farmer's white cheese or drained cottage cheese
pinakurat, balsamic, or sherry vinegar
extra virgin olive oil
flaked sea salt
  • Dice large tomatoes and halve cherry tomatoes or leave whole. Arrange on a salad plate. Scatter crumbled cheese on top of tomatoes. Mix 4 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons vinegar, and enough salt to taste. Drizzle all over the tomatoes.
I had this salad 3 nights in a row. The sweetened pinakurat (Waykurat) vinegar mixed with the tomato juices is so delicious and quite addicting, I ended up slurping the sauce left on the plate. Yeah, it's that good. BTW, I bought the vinegar from here.

Baked Upo
1 small bottle gourd
¼ cup water
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 ounce ground pork, longaniza, or Spanish chorizo
2 tomatoes, diced
1 teaspoon fish extract
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Wash and scrub the gourd. Cut off both ends and slice horizontally in half. Scoop out and dice the soft pulp and seeds; reserve. Steam the gourd halves with a quarter cup of water for 10 minutes. In a medium pan, heat the olive oil and stir-fry onion and garlic for 2 minutes then add the ground pork. Cook for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, reserved gourd pulp, fish extract, and salt. Stir-fry for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in parsley. Fill gourd halves with mixture. Place gourd in a baking dish together with the liquid in the steaming pan, cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake at 400°F for 15 minutes or until gourd is fork tender.
Upo has been considered an insipid vegetable devoid of any nutritional value but according to this website it is rich in carotenoids, vitamins A and C, potassium, magnesium and fiber. I find it not bland at all and I like its slightly sweet taste and ability to absorb flavorings.



Kulinarya was started by a group of Filipino foodies living in Sydney (Kath, Trisha, and Trissa), who are passionate about the Filipino culture and its colorful cuisine.

Each month we will showcase a new dish along with their family recipes. By sharing these recipes, we hope you find the same passion and love for Filipino Food as we do.


Enjoy other vegetable posts from KCC members.

March 17, 2011

Cod in Sherry Wine Vinegar Caper Sauce

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Cod in Sherry Vinegar and Caper Sauce

food friday chiclet

It's Lent season and most probably every Food Friday entry will be a fish dish.

Cod in Sherry Vinegar Caper Sauce
1 pound fresh cod filets, cut into serving portions
2 teaspoons sea salt
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot, sliced
4 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar
dash of ground white pepper
2 tablespoons water
½ cup deep fried capers
  • Coat cod with 1 teaspoon salt and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Bake in a 375° F oven for 10 - 15 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork. While cod is baking, prepare the sauce. In a skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil and saute shallots until golden brown. Add vinegar, water, the remaining salt, and ground pepper. Cook for 2 minutes over low heat. Pour over cod. Sprinkle with capers.

March 14, 2011

Chocolate and Mint Mousse Pie

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Chocolate Mint Mousse Pie

People will celebrate anything and today it's π day. I wonder when did people start baking a pi pie to sort of celebrate the day. I was really thinking of making a pie or cake so I can use the Andes® baking chips that I picked up from the grocery store last week. I can't remember the last time I had this mint chocolate candy, probably more than 10 years ago. It used to be a favorite but somehow I have been ignoring it until I saw the chips. And so to join all the geeks in honoring Pi Day and also the coming St. Patrick's Day (March 17), I made a chocolate and mint mousse pie. This light heavenly pie is easy to put together if you use a ready-to-bake pie shell. This recipe is adapted from Hershey's Chocolate Mint Mousse Pie. I added white chocolate chips to the mint topping.

Chocolate and Mint Mousse Pie
dark cocoa mousse
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1 tablespoon cold water
2 tablespoons
boiling water
6 tablespoons
6 tablespoons
Hershey's Special Dark cocoa
1 cup
cold heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon
vanilla extract
baked 9-inch pie crust, cooled

white chocolate mint mousse
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1 tablespoon cold water
2 tablespoons
boiling water
3 tablespoons
icing sugar
½ cup white chocolate morsels, melted and cooled
1 cup cold heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon mint extract
few drops of green food dye

Andes® baking chips
  • Dark chocolate mousse: Sprinkle gelatin over cold water in a shallow container and let stand for 2 minutes to soften. Add boiling water, stir until gelatin is completely dissolved and mixture is clear. Cool for 5 minutes. Stir together sugar and cocoa in the bowl of standing mixer with paddle attachment[ add whipping cream and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until stiff, scraping bottom of bowl occasionally. Add gelatin mixture; beat just until well blended. [Optional: Fold in half a cup of Andes Baking chips.] Pour into prepared pie crust.
  • White chocolate mint mousse: Sprinkle gelatin over cold water in a shallow container and let stand for 2 minutes to soften. Add boiling water, stir until gelatin is completely dissolved and mixture is clear. Cool for 5 minutes. In the bowl of standing mixer with paddle attachment, beat together sugar, cream, melted white chocolate, green food dye, and mint extract to soft peaks. Add gelatin mixture and beat on low until well blended. Pour on top of chocolate mousse. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  • Finish pie: Garnish edges of pie with Andes® baking chips.

March 10, 2011


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One of the most requested recipes by my readers is Kuchinta. These cakes are a combination of finely ground regular and a small amount of glutinous rice then steamed in small plastic cups. They are best eaten with freshly grated coconut. Food grade lye water is added to the mixture although I'm not sure if it adds to the flavor or texture. If you are concerned about using lye water, clear pandan extract would be a good substitute but the flavor won't be the same.

The lye water (lihia) Filipinos use is watered-down potassium hydroxide made from wood ash. It is not the same as sodium hydroxide which is caustic and thus called caustic soda. In case you're curious or want to make your own lye water, the process is here. Actually, I've seen how it's made. When I was about 10 or 12 years old, I used to watch a neighbor's grandma make lye water with the burnt wood she used for cooking. She gathered the ashes into a gallon jar and added water. Of course, at the time I didn't know it was lye water and what it was used for.

1¼ cups regular rice
2 tablespoons glutinous rice
2½ cups water
¾ cup dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons cooked regular rice
1½ tablespoons lye water
2 tablespoons achuete/achiote water
  • Soak both rice in water overnight. Blend with the soaking water together with the cooked rice in a blender until very smooth. Transfer into a measuring cup and add sugar, achuete, and lye water. Stir until well blended. Fill lightly greased puto/kuchinta cups ¾ full. Place in a steamer, cover, and cook over rapidly boiling water for 15 minutes. Let cool before removing from molds. Serve with grated coconut.

March 8, 2011

Buttermilk Yeast Waffles

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Buttermilk Yeast Waffles

I had homemade buttermilk that had been sitting in the refrigerator for a week and I was not too sure how long it will keep before it gets bad. I didn't want it to get spoiled so I used it in place of regular milk to make yeast waffles. Wow, these buttermilk yeast waffles are very fluffy, airy, and crispy and have a slight very nice tang that I really love. They are simply delicious and way better in flavor and texture than baking powder waffles. And I prefer them without butter and syrup. They are so good just with a dusting of powdered sugar along with some fresh fruits. The recipe has to be mixed the day before baking and needs to rest and rise in the refrigerator overnight, but the wait is worth it. If you don't have a waffle maker, this dough also makes very good griddle cakes or pancakes.

Buttermilk Yeast Waffles
3 cups all-purpose flour
½ tablespoon instant yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups buttermilk
1 cup water
6 tablespoons light olive or grapeseed oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Mix in all the wet ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or up to 2 days. Preheat waffle maker and bake according to manufacturer's directions.
Buttermilk Yeast Waffles

March 4, 2011

Food Friday: Chicken Binakol

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Chicken Binakol
chicken soup cooked in young coconut water

food friday chiclet

Chicken Binakol
adapted from KULINARYA guidebook

2 tablespoons light olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-inch piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 small onion, chopped
4 scallions, chopped
1 pound whole chicken breast, bone-in
2 stalks lemon grass, white parts only, pounded
4 whole black peppercorns
¼ cup fish extract
2 cups buco (young coconut) water
6 cups chicken broth
1 cup buco meat, cut into 2 x 1-inch strips
4 scallions, chopped
pepper leaves for garnish, optional
  • In a large pot, heat the oil and add garlic, ginger, and onion. Add the chicken breast, lemon grass, and peppercorns. Add the fish extract, buco water, and chicken broth. When it begins to boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
  • Remove chicken from bone and slice into strips.
  • Strain broth and remove fat with a fat separator if desired. Return broth to the pot and bring back to a boil. Add the chicken strips and buco meat and simmer until heated through. Serve topped with chopped scallions and pepper leaves.
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