Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!!

My 2011 Christmas Tree :) Well, my 2011 balls.
I'm playing with my cheap Macro lens too. It's not bad, not bad at all.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Lumpia (Pork and Shrimp Rolls)

Here is my simple version of lumpia.


2 lbs ground pork

1 lbs raw shrimp coarsely chopped

1 Large Onion minced

1 Medium Carrot minced

2 Tbsp Mirin

2 Tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar

2 Tbsp Hoisin Sauce

2 Tbsp Salt (to taste)

4 Tbsp cornstarch or flour (I used oatmeal flour)

2 Eggs

Pepper (to taste)

Eggroll Wrapper


Mix all ingredients, taking care not to handle the meat too much (as it toughens the pork).  Wrap a couple and fry that first to make sure the seasoning is sufficient. 

 After the taste test, adjust the seasoning and wrap the rest.


Yields 30.


For the first meetup of my Ethnic Cooking Club, the theme was Holiday Cookie Swap.  I thought, hmmm what should I make? There are not much cookies / biscuits from the Philippines.  I therefore decided on Otap.  Now the problem is, there aren't many Otap recipe's out there in the net.  Most of what I found are actually questions.  There was one site that had a recipe, but it was mostly promotion of a product I don't particularly like.  So I adopted the ratio of flour to yeast and decided to wing it :)  Not quite like the Otap from home, but it's good enough.  I hope someone will write the actual recipe somewhere.

Bread Flour – 500 grams
Iodized salt – 7.5 grams
Light Brown Sugar – 50 grams for dough, 3 tbps extra for the yeast and butter mixture.  You can substitute regular refined sugar but not Turbinado.
Turbinado Brown Sugar – for topping 1 - 2 cups
Dry Instant Yeast – 3 grams
Water – 10-12 ounces
1 stick unsalted butter
Cinnamon to taste

Proof the yeast in a small bowl.  Mix 4 tbsp water and yeast.  Add 1 tsp of the sugar to feed the yeast. Set aside for 3-5 minutes. If the yeast does not froth, throw it away as it means that the yeast is not active.  Make a new batch.
While the yeast is proofing, mix the bread flour, salt and 50 grams brown sugar. 
When your yeast is ready, add the flour mixture to your mixer and make a well in the middle.  Add the water and yeast mixture.  Mix with the dough hook on #2 for 10 minutes.
Let rise for 1 hour. To test, poke the dough and if your finger print remains indented it’s ready.
 Butter Mixture:
Make sure butter is at room temperature.  Mix with 2 tbps light brown sugar.
Mix Turbinado Sugar and Cinnamon in a flat plate or flat bowl. Set aside.

 To assemble:

To make it manageable, cut the dough in two before assembling.  Roll out dough until ¼ inch thick.  Spread top with butter and sugar mixture.  Fold 1/3 of the dough, and top with the remaining 3rd. Brush top with more butter mixture then roll up the dough into a cane form.   Slice into 1/2 inch rolls. Take one of the rolls and wrap the end of the roll under the dough to avoid getting an errant ear. Flatten into an oval with your hands and roll dough out into a bigger oval.  Spread butter mixture lightly on top of the oval, then drop face down into the bowl filled with Turbinado sugar and cinnamon.  Bake in the oven at 350F for 8 to 10 minutes until golden brown.
Yields 4 Dozen 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Homemade Pork and Shrimp Dumplings

I had a craving for Xiao Long Bao and decided to try to make one at home.

But before that I needed to practice the technique for wrapping dumplings.

I used store bought dumpling wrappers - BIG MISTAKE!

So much for short cuts.  The filling was all hand made though (I ground the pork myself).

Pork and Shrimp Dumplings (version 1)

1 lb Pork Butt
1 lb Peeled Shrimp
1 Large Onion
3 Cloves Garlic
3 tbsp Chives
1 tsp Cumin (I have no special reason for adding this, just that it was in my cupboard)
2 tbsp Kosher Salt (not table salt!!)
Pepper flakes
pepper to taste
1 Egg
1 Cup flour
1 packet fresh dumpling wrappers

Sauce (just mix this all together):

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp Pepper flakes
1 tbsp Sugar (optional)
Pepper to taste (I think fresh grated ginger might be nice too)

Dumpling Instructions:

Chop the onion into 1 inch cubes or any size that can fit into the food grinder chute.
Mince the garlic and chives and combine with onion.
Slice the Pork Butt into 1 x 2 inch strips and season with S&P.
Season the peeled and de-veined shrimp with S&P and Cumin.
Freeze both the pork and shrimp until they're halfway to completely frozen to prep them for grinding.  If you don't freeze them partway, it'll clog your food grinder.  Kung wala kang grinder, pwede mo dalhin yung mix sa palengke hanap ka nang mag grind.  They do that for my aunts when they make large amounts of lumpia.  Any pork vendor can do that for you.

After grinding, add the egg and flour, S&P and the pepper flakes.  I would add a little brown sugar here too if I were you.  But then again my teeth are sugar whores, so don't take my word for it.

I like adding flour (in my case, oatmeal flour) to ground meat because I find it keeps the meat moist.  I once made a pure meat, meatloaf, and it was miserably dry because all the juice ran to the pan.

Anyway, once all done, mix with your hands (don't over mix!) and start stuffing the dumpling wrappers.

I did mine empanada style because I couldn't get the hang of proper dumpling wrapping.  I suspect it's also because my dumpling wrappers were store bought and the edges were a bit dry.

I'm not quite satisfied with this one and I give it just 6/10 :-/

Will try again and next time I'll make the wrappers too.

Homemade Dumplings

My first foray into the land of dumplings.
I'm prepping for Xiao Long Bao :)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Home Made Taho


I'm a taho freak.  I run with water dripping off my newly washed hair as soon as I hear the Manong Taho yelling that all too familiar mantra in the morning.  I've desperately wanted to make taho here, but all the how-to's I've read involves calcium sulfate, and I don't know where to get that (nor do I trust it).

A couple of weeks back I was eating Korean and after complimenting this Korean Lady on their tofu, she told me  that they make it from scratch everyday.  Apparently, I don't need anything else but lime :) LIME!!... LIME!!

I tried to buy soy beans (saw them on sale a month back) but they were all out this week, so I had to make do with unsweetened Soy Milk.  I think my Tofu was not as silken because the milk had Soy Lecithin (it's an emulsifier that would prevent soy curds from separating with the water) but it did taste the same as regular taho. I didn't even notice the lime at all :)

I'll continue to try and see how I can make the texture better.  But I'm already HAPPY!! HAPPY I TELL'S YA!

It was simple really.  Here's what you need:

240 ML Soy Milk.  Make sure that your Soy milk has "Non-GMO" in the ingredients list.  It means the soy wasn't genetically modified.

2-3 limes

Dash of salt


Step 1: Boil the soy milk.

Step 2: Juice the limes, and put them your container.

Step 3: Pour the hot soy milk into the container with the lime juice.

Step 4: Stir twice, yes JUST TWO TIMES! To mix the lime juice.

Step 5: The tofu curdles almost immediately.  I'm not sure how long i'm supposed to wait, but after 2 minutes I poured it over the cheesecloth.

Step 6: Scoop the soy curds up to your glass :) There will still be lots of water, but I didn't really mind (I was desperate).

Step 7: Top with brown sugar syrup :) Tapioca optional.

NOTE: If there is too much lime juice, the milk will separate TOO much, and it won't be like Taho.  If your lime is really juicy, err on the side of less lime juice.  I need to re-do the recipe and experiment on the ratio, but I say start with 1 tbsp of lime juice to cup of soy milk.

Brown Sugar Syrup

2 cups sugar

2 tbsp water

Dash of salt

2 tbsp corn syrup


Heat the sugar and water together.   Once the sugar liquefies, drop in the dash of salt and the corn syrup. 

The corn syrup should prevent it from becoming the brittle in peanut brittle (read: prevents sugar from crystallizing again.)


Homemade Taho

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Failure and Freedom

When you think about it people who are famous, and succeed in sports, essentially do the same thing over and over again.

Put one step in front of another.  Shoot the ball in the goal. 


Would you really know your destiny if you are persistent in the same thing?

Or should you take a hint and do something else?


If I knew being an adult meant being more scared of the world, I'd have just stayed naive.

How do you cut the ties that bind?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Palmdale Mountains

The beautiful rock formations of Palmdale :) I heard Winona Ryder climbed one of these (Star Trek, 2009)

Santa Barbara

Testing my Lumix in Santa Barbara, CA (clearly I need practice)
These pictures have not been altered :)

Photo's from Francisco's (nuts, i want more caramel nuts!!), Carpinteria, the Santa Barbara Farmer's market, and Mission.

The yellow raspberries were amazing! Better than the red!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

What Today is for the Rest of the World

As people continue to fight for freedom in other countries, the US grieves for its loss of innocence on this day.

I vividly recall my bewilderment that day:

I've never seen my dad cry before. 

He was furtively wiping tears from his face, recalling his friends that worked in the Towers as we watched it burn from half a world away.  It looked like a bad movie special effect, only this was real.

It is shameful, but it's true: My only thought that day was that I'm glad my dad was home after 8 years of living in New York.

I can't pretend to know how Americans are feeling, however - I'll offer to hold your hand in respect and silence.

I'll never forget too.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Saturday, August 20, 2011


I'm fooling around with the GF3. I clearly need to learn more.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Summer Food Festivals - IL

Taste of Chicago June 25, 2011
Ribfest Naperville July 2, 2011

You would think pictures of food festivals will only trigger memories of food, but my journey towards junk food heaven started with a busker brilliantly playing Careless Whisper with the haunting sax notes following me as I walk along Jackson Blvd. Towards the end of the street, as crowds start to thicken, the energy changed and some people were dancing, likely brought on by the jungle drumbeats from the two guys below.

How can a major metropolis have excellent acoustics right at it's streets?

The pictures below are only a few of the junkfood I ate. I kinda forgot to take pictures of the others.

As you can probably tell, I'm falling in love with this place :)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Starting New

I'm doing it.

I really am.

I've decided to start planning for my own restaurant.  I've always started dreaming about it, but then pushed it off because I'll never have that amount of money to start it with. 

I still don't.  But planning and experimenting is always fun, so I'll just do it. 

I'll worry about money later ;)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Nanette's Non-Bridal Shower

Nanette's Non-Bridal Shower (Discovery Suites Ortigas)

Tin was in charge of the room decor (yes we customized the already cool hotel room to be way cooler) and we chose black for the occasion.
I was in charge of the food (of course)

We had massage / body spa all you can in our 3 bedroom suite, drank wine, ate chocolates and giggled until the morning.

Alice in Weddingland

After almost half a year I'm finally uploading the pictures of my mini-project - Nanette and Oliver's Wedding.

Our theme was Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland and one of the things I stressed with the stylists (Flower Power) was to make sure they walk the line between kitschy and elegant. I think they absolutely did. Each table had a different theme, drink me, twiddle-deedum/twiddle-deedee, mad hatter, teacup, etc, etc. Everything was hand made and made well. You can tell they were in love with the theme too.

The food and reception is at Antonio's, they are #5 in Asia's 2010 Miele Guide. #5 in Asia, 2 numbers from Robuchon's Macau restaurant (#3). That's how good it is. We had a 6 course plated dinner (I hate buffets) and each dish was cooked perfectly. And cooked perfectly for all the guests. That's a huge feat.

The cake and mini-cake souvenirs were made by Judy Uson. It was my wedding gift for my sister (of course my gift is a food item). I firmly believe that if you hire creative's, you have to tell them what the the general idea is and then let them be. If you look at the cake and the styling you'll see I'm right ;). They just surprised us that day, A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.

We didn't have any video, presentations or any slideshows to make sure people mingle in the reception and they did, it was such a great crowd and everything was just heartfelt.

Congratulations Kitty-cats and Oliver ;)

For the first time I was able to resist the urge to whip out my camera and just live at the moment.
These pictures were taken by family and friends who flew from far away (we had guests from 4 continents) just to be with my sister and Oliver. Thank you. Thank you.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Yogurt Apple Crisp

(In my monster voice) 
I want my apple pie O_O

But I'm not supposed to eat any dairy or starches (except yogurt and oat)

So here is my desperate (but IMHO really good) take on Apple Pie

1 Bag Granny Smith Apples
3/4 Cup Oat flour
I cup instant oatmeal
1 Cup and 4 Tbsp Greek Yogurt
2 Cups Brown sugar (loosely packed in cup)
1 tsp cinnamon

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
Peel the apples and slice into wedges.  Place them on your pie pan or casserole.
Pour a cup of the yogurt on the apples and make sure everything is covered.
Since Greek yogurt is thick, the best way to do this is with your hands.
Mix the oat flour, 1 1/2 cup of the brown sugar and cinnamon.
Cover the apples with the flour mixture.  This will absorb the juice after the apple is cooked and make the dish creamier without the fat :-D Yey!

Place dish into oven, covered for 30 minutes

While waiting, make your crumble by mixing the instant oatmeal with remaining sugar then the yogurt.  This is typically done with butter, but flavored Greek yogurt works great. 

Remove dish from the oven, and put the crumble on top. 

Place back into the oven for another 15-20 minutes or until your house smells happy and the crumble becomes crispy.

Get regular Greek Yogurt, not the low fat ones.  In this case I had strawberry flavored yogurt in the ref so I used that.  If you only have regular yogurt, use a cheese cloth or katsa to let the yogurt drip and get thicker.  I  don't think thinner yogurt will work as well (but you can try if you like).

Desperation never tasted so good.