Thursday, June 30, 2011

Cheesecake with Strawberry Compote

I have been making cheesecake for awhile now. So when I saw some juicy strawberries in the supermarket, I grabbed them and started thinking of making another version of my Ultimate cheesecake.
For beginners: you will need a spring form pan: -- it's a pan with  lever on the side you can open.


  • 2 cups finely ground oreos or graham crackers (about 12-15 pieces)-- use a food processor/blender to make it easier
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted --you can use less butter if you wan you can also add some granulated sugar in it (to taste)
-- the original recipe called for cinnamon, but since I used the oreos I had on hand, I skipped the cinnamon altogether


  • 1 pound cream cheese, 2 (8-ounce) blocks, softened (room temperature for the Philippine
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups cream -- or if you want it more tart, 2 cups sour cream) or 1 cup sour cream, 1 cup regular cream
  • 1 lemon, zested -- careful with the zest....don't get the white part bec it will become bitter
  • 1 dash vanilla extract
  • Warm strawberry Topping, recipe follows


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. (or 160C)
In a mixing bowl, combine the ingredients (for the crust) with a fork until evenly moistened. Lightly coat the bottom and sides of an 8-inch springform pan with non-stick cooking spray. (I used wax paper on the bottom since cutting the cake ruins the pan if you don't line it)-- this I learned from experience
Pour the crumbs into the pan and, using the bottom of a measuring cup or the smooth bottom of a glass, press the crumbs down into the base and 1-inch up the sides. Refrigerate for 5 minutes.   (my daughter used spoons)
For the Filling:
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese on low speed for 1 minute until smooth and free of any lumps. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and continue to beat slowly until combined. Gradually add sugar and beat until creamy, for 1 to 2 minutes.
Add sour cream, lemon zest, and vanilla. (I didn't have sour cream at the time so i used 2 cups regular cream and 1 tsp lemon juice) Periodically scrape down the sides of the bowl and the beaters. The batter should be well-mixed but not overbeaten. Pour the filling into the crust-lined pan and smooth the top with a spatula.

Set the cheesecake pan on a large piece of aluminum foil and fold up the sides around it. Place the cake pan in a large roasting pan. Pour  water into the roasting pan until the water is about halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan; the foil will keep the water from seeping into the cheesecake. Bake for 50 minutes. The cheesecake should still jiggle (it will firm up after chilling), so be careful not to overcook. Let cool in pan for 30 minutes. Chill in the refrigerator, loosely covered, for at least 4 hours. Loosen the cheesecake from the sides of the pan by running a thin metal spatula around the inside rim. Unmold and transfer to a cake plate. Using a spatula spread a layer of Warm Lemon Blueberry topping over the surface.
Slice the cheesecake with a thin, non-serrated knife that has been dipped in hot water. Wipe dry after each cut.

Warm strawberry compote -- (you can use canned pie topping)

  • 1 box strawberries
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
In a small saucepan add all the ingredients and simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes or so until the fruit begins to break down slightly. Leave to cool before spreading on cheesecake. 
Yield: 6 servings
note: the strawberries actually emitted juice and so the volume of the liquid in the pan tripled when it was cooked. Also, when I put the strawberries on the cheesecake, I discovered that I had so little strawberries, it did not cover the cake. So I decided to whip some cream to put in the middle.
1 cup cream 
1/4 cup powdered sugar  (if you don't have this, you can make some using a blender- just blend some granulated till it looks like powder)-- I actually skipped using the powdered sugar in this recipe since I was thinking it didn't need any extra sweetness)
Whip is high speed until hard peaks form:
This is the end result: the piping of the cream is a little messy because my daughter helped me pipe. hahaha. We are both practicing our piping skills with the new Wilton piping set we got as presents.

note 1: This is the first time I used oreos as a base of my cheesecake, I think I over pressed it when I put it in the pan. I had a hard time taking the crust out when I sliced it. (it got stuck) So, don't get over enthusiastic on pressing the crust down. Also, go easy on spreading the syrup of the compote. I went overboard and it spilled over in the refrigerator.

note 2: if you want a denser cheesecake, (new york style) reduce the cream to 1 cup. My kids like it a little more softer

So, I'll wait for all the people I sent slices to to comment...meanwhile, I still have some chicken to fry.!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

There's this Chinese dish that I have always loved when we went to Chinese restaurants; it's this whole chicken stuffed with glutinous rice... and when you sink your your spoon into the chicken, you'll realize that the chicken was cooked to tender perfection and you'll be able to scoop a spoonful of that rice with a bit of meat and skin... it's like lasagna but with chicken and rice.

Ok, enough with the day dreaming, and onto cooking! *wipe drool* haha

I got this recipe from YouTube as usual. This was actually the first dish I ever made in my oven! Here is the recipe; but here is MY recipe:

400 g Bacon, less salty
½ cup onions, chopped
½ cup oyster sauce
2 cups fresh shitake mushrooms, sliced
4 cups cooked rice, malagkit + regular rice 1:2 ratio
1 pc whole boneless chicken

Render the fat from the bacon until brown, if the oil isn't enough add a bit of cooking oil. Stirfry the onions and mushroom into the pan. When everything looks a bit cooked, add the oyster sauce and then dunk in the cooked rice. Stir fry mix well, make sure every bit of rice is covered in oyster sauce, add more if necessary. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Get your deboned whole chicken which has been washed and cleaned. Close the hole where the neck is with a toothpick so the rice won't ooze out from the other end. Start stuffing the rice into the chicken and gently pushing all the rice into pockets inside the chicken until the whole chicken is bloated with rice. Secure and close the butt of the chicken using the excess skin and tooth pick again (make sure to use bamboo toothpicks, they're more sturdy).

Coat the chicken with soy sauce to give the chicken that glossy brown crispy skin and then salt and pepper to taste.

Place the whole chicken into the oven, make sure to line it with aluminum foil. Bake at 350°F for 25 minutes or until done (depends on the size of the chicken).

Voila! Mushroom and Bacon Rice Stuffed Chicken!

and when you slice into it:

After deboning the chicken, you got these left over bones, don't throw them away, boil it with a few cups of water until the flavor comes out, and then use that water to cook your rice! So you'll have chicken flavored rice instantly!

I used shitake mushrooms because I like the flavor better instead of button mushrooms as used in the original recipe and I also added the oyster sauce to make it more savory. I like it how the chicken breast is very moist and soft after baking it, I'm not sure what the secret is but I've cooked this twice and it's always been moist. haha

I don't like using butter stir frying the rice mixture because the butter gives this flowery aroma that doesn't really go well with Chinese cooking, so instead I used the good ol' cooking oil.

That's about all the editing I did to suit my family's taste, feel free to revise it too! :)


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

En Route to En Croute

En Croute is any food that is wrapped in a pastry and baked. After I pre-made my shortcrust pastry I am en route to making my Salmon En Croute!

After you've prepared the pastry, this recipe takes almost no time to prepare, it's very easy and straight forward. I got this from Sorted Food Website. I discovered them in YouTube where they make really great , clear, modern and funny videos.

Here is just what I used, MY edited version:

1 shortcrust pastry
2 salmon fillet portions, approx 175g each
4 tbsp of cream cheese
handful of boiled and dried spinach
1 egg
bunch of fresh asparagus for garnish

Originally, the recipe calls for ready to buy frozen puff pastry, where you can buy in Santi's here in Manila, but since I wanted to challenge myself, I decided to make my own Shortcrust Pastry.

After rolling out the dough, to the thickness of maybe a 5 peso coin, then let it rest again in the ref.

Prepare some room temperature cream cheese, mine came right out from the ref so I popped it in the microwave for 30 seconds, mixed it to check if it's soft enough, then again for 30 seconds.

I have stirfried the spinach with some crushed garlic then drained them REALLY DRY-- hand-squeezed to perfection haha. After which, I chopped it into pieces then mixed vigorously with the cream cheese until well blended, salt and pepper to taste.

Take out the rolled out shortcrust pastry again then place a big spoonful of spinach mixture on top then place a nice piece salmon (make sure to pat dry with paper towel) on top of it.

Crack and beat 1 egg on a separate bowl, then brush it on the edges of the pastry to use as adhesive; then flip over the other side of pastry then pinch the sides to seal. Score a plaid pattern on top for aesthetic purposed; then brush on the top some egg wash to give the crust some gloss. Put it back in the ref.

Make sure your oven has been pre-heating for a while (at least 30 minutes) at 250°C, then pop in the cold Salmon En Croute into the oven then bake until brown. According to my pastry chef and good friend Jordan, ensuring HOT oven and COLD pastry will ensure the pasty puff.

He also says to make sure that you get to know your oven. How long it'll take for it to heat up etc etc. In my case, i had to do 3 pcs of en croute at a time, so I had to crank up my oven really high then put them in; and after finishing a batch of 3, i had to leave it again

to preheat for a few more minutes, before I put in the next batch of cold pastry. Bake until brown.

I ended up baking the pastry for about 30 minutes, the salmon was flaky and not over-cooked as I expected it to be. Since it was inside the pastry, it was steamed. Garnished it with a asparagus and we were good to go.

Bon Appetite!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Shortcut Shortcrust Pastry

According to the video I watched, making Shortcrust Pastry by hand is nothing to be afraid of. Despite the fact that I have watched the same video over and over again for no less than 20X... I was afraid, very afraid. Will it puff? too much butter? too much flour? did i knead too much? did i knead enough? too much water? it's too soft! it's too tough! Will it taste good?

Well, after successfully making the quick version of the Shortcrust Pastry Dough, I am happy to report, that it is indeed very easy. Quoting Gordon Ramsay on his YouTube video, he said Shortcrust Pastry is the easiest thing to do in the world. Gordon used a food processor in this video, since I have not invested anything else in my kitchen other than my small Imarflex Oven, needless to say, I did not have a food processor, that is why i had to do the pastry by hand!

To start of talking about Shortcrust Pastry, I should first give you the ingredients:

1 cup cubed Unsalted butter
1 2/3 cups All Purpose Flour
3/4 tsp Salt (if you're using regular butter, skip the salt)
1/3 cups of COLD water

(This recipe I used yields about 3 sheets of elongated pastry, enough to cover 1.5" thick salmon)

Easy ingredients that you already have in your kitchen. Now the fun part, mashing them together with your hands! Watch this video that helped me so much with the technique on how to mash up the butter with the flour.

What's important with mashing up butter and flour with your hand is to make sure your hands are clean (of course) and that they are not too warm.

* A little trivia that I got from the Japanese - the reason sushi are always prepared by men, it's not an issue of gender, but they say women's hands are usually 1° warmer than men's and it's not so good when you're preparing raw fish *

You have to make sure that you don't leave the butter-flour mixture unattended especially if you live in a tropical country like the Philippines, you don't want the butter to melt into the flour; if you need to pee or whatever, pop in into the ref for a while. It has to be light that it looks like bread crumbs. Don't worry if all the butter aren't evenly incorporated for the butter is what makes the crust flaky. If you have butter lumps that are tapioca-ball-sized, that's ok.

It is best to make shortcrust pastry ahead of time, you will need to chill the pastry for at least 20 minutes or overnight. When you are ready to use it, make sure it's cold, don't let it sit out to defrost. If the dough is too big, use a knife to cut it. You can knead it first with your hands until it is manageable enough to be rolled with a rolling pin. Don't worry about the dough cracking on the side, or when you accidentally puncture a hole, you can just mend it with another piece of dough.

Traditionally, how you make pastry long hand is you have to hammer in cold butter into the pastry and fold it into one fourth's until the butter is equally distributed in sheets -- this is traditionally how you'll make French Croissants.

Here are just photos of my "test run" with the pastry to see if it were a success, I didn't know what else to put so I sandwiched a spam in it.

*Jin is my nephew, hihi

*crust is soft and flaky

Saturday, June 25, 2011

YouTube Killed TV

I've always been teased by my sisters and friends that I have too much stuff going on in my life. Apart from my day job, which is working for our family clothing business; I am also a Philippine tour guide; I am a graphic designer; alas, I am also a speed dating events organizer. haha. I'm pretty sure that's about it. -- oh wait! now I have a food blog! haha

Recently, i have found a new hobby! Something I have always been interested in: Baking! As a child, my favorite TV show has been Del Monte Kitchenomics, just after the noon time show. I remember I prepared this terrible salad with raisins and mayo (terrible!) and my mom had to force a smile and a "mmm!" haha just not to hurt my feelings.

As a teenager, my favorite channel was the Lifestyle Channel in Sky Cable. Now, I find myself enjoying TV shows such as Junior Masterchef Australia, Cake Boss, intrigued with Last Cake Standing, Top Chef among others.

In this day and age, TV in our house seem to be so passe, my dad is the only one left who watches TV without lugging around a laptop. I for one, growing up as a TV addict was cured by... *drumroll* YOU TUBE!

I know, it's not a cure, but it's a cure for me! haha I don't have to wait a week for the next episode of the shows that I like; I don't need to bother with all the commercials (except for those annoying pop up ads) which you have no choice but to watch.

You can also watch back episodes of whichever show; you can hear people talk about something controversial, search it in YouTube and you get it in video; you don't need to wait for your local news to show it, just search and play.

I especially enjoy watching different "channels" in YouTube wherein the stars themselves produce their "shows." Great YouTube success example is the make up guru, Michelle Phan. I have been watching her since she was filming her tutorials in her bathroom, in her parents' house, and now she is a make up artist for Lancome Paris, and is now an official STAR all over the world, especially to Asian girls who has small almond shaped eyes.

Another YouTube Channel I especially enjoy is Laura in the Kitchen. She is an Italian woman who lives in America. She was originally from Naples, her family used to have a restaurant but now, she is a YouTube sensation as well. What I love about her is that she teaches you step by step how to make something, and she ALWAYS make it sound so easy; and the truth is, it is!

One more thing I love about YouTube, since the stars are also the producer, the writer, the editor and all of the above, they make the show as long as they want and as short as they want! There is no pressure for them to fill in the precious air time. and thus giving them creative freedom to produce great videos.

Bread Ahoy!

I would like to share what i made in my blog, I don't think I have the right to share any kind of recipe because I didn't invent them or anything, I just follow their instructions on how to do them and do them. I'd however post link of the video or the website where I got the recipe and talk about the process and reviews.

The first ever bread I cooked in my oven was the Filipino breakfast bread called Pan de Sal. It is a sweet bread covered in bread crumbs!

I did this just as taught by YouTube channel Panlasang Pinoy (Filipino Taste) and here's the link for the video:

What I think i did wrong was that I over cooked it a bit, the top was too toasted that it made it a bit hard, none the less, the taste of freshly baked bread is delicious!

The next bread I tried making was White Bread. In this case, I did not refer to a YouTube channel but only referred to this blog site, which is also where I got the inspiration to start blogging about my baking and cooking as well!

Here is the link:

and here is my bread:

This bread did not turn out the way I thought it would be. I think I followed the instructions pretty well but instead of having a white, fluffy, light bread, I got instead, a light brown, heavy bread. At first I was a bit disappointed, but then when I toasted it in the oven toaster and slap on a generous amount of my mom's chicken sandwich, put on some tomatoes, basil and mozzarella cheese, it tasted pretty good, if I may say so myself

I realized that the bread tasted like flat Italian Bread! The ones you get from Italian restaurants and you dip in olive oil and vinegar! It went well with the Italian flavors; and so, in my recipe book, instead of naming White Bread -- White Bread, I'll call it Italian Bread! just until I get good enough in baking to find out by myself to adjust the consistency of the bread.

So for those who wants to try this, it's really very easy. I only used my hands to knead the bread and did not have an electric mixer nor a whisk!

I hope you enjoy the recipe above and wait for my banana bread and coffee buns!

Ba Ba Na Na Banana

I seriously have to find another time to bake other than after office hours / before bedtime. haha!

Today my good friend Jennifer came over to bake with me! She called me after she saw my Pan de Sal photo in facebook and asked where I went to learn how to bake, or was I attending classes haha. I told her that everything she needs to know is in YouTube!

So we decided to come together and try baking something: Banana cake!

I got this recipe from Laura Vitale, and here's the link to the recipe: you'll find both the recipe and the video in the link.

Supposedly, the banana cake should be in a 9"x5" pan but i decided to use my new cupcake pans and cute monkey cupcake liners I bought from Gourdo's, these were Wilton Jungle Pals liners; then I still had a little batter left so i had to find whatever I had on hand, which was a square stainless container and an ensaimada tin which I have no idea where it came from.

This recipe of the banana cake is GREAT!!! Laura is right, she said it is the best banana bread recipe you'll ever find! Instead of baking the bread as said in the recipe for 1 hr 10 minutes, because I made them into small cupcakes, it only took 20-30 minutes and the sure fire way to check it is to push a toothpick in and see if it comes out clean.

Another thing we changed in the recipe is the salt. We couldn't find unsalted butter so we used regular butter and skipped the 1 tsp. salt.

The banana came out really light, moist, the top was crispy and it smells GRREAT! In my opinion, the bread was too sweet, i think i might reduce the amount of sugar on my next batch; my sister also commented that the bananas I used might have been to small so will also have to maybe add 1 more piece of banana into the mixture.

I also tried Laura's maple butter even though I think it's too oily and fattening but it turned out quite nice (like the rest of the evil stuff in this world).

Jennifer and I might just make baking a regular thing between us! It's a great excuse to hang out and eat! :D

Cloudy with a chance of Meatballs

Pardon the reference to the movie. I think it is an appropriate given that yesterday, our area exprienced a mini tornado (ipo ipo). It kind of reminds me of the last scene in this movie where a big meatball/spagetti twister is coming to destroy the town.

Back to my meatball project. YUMMY MAGAZINE featured a meatball recipe on  their site and I decided to try it out.

Here is the original recipe (courtesy of YUMMY Magazine)--- I will attach the pictures of how I did it.

(my comments are in orange)  The original recipe in black

Meatballs With Sweet And Sour Sauce

By: Myra Santiago

Makes 12 large meatballs  Prep Time 10 minutes  Cooking Time 10 minutes

1/2 kilo lean ground beef
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon ginger powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
cooking oil for frying
bamboo skewers
sweet and sour sauce (bottled or homemade) -- I did a homemade one -- (equal parts of vinegar and sugar ex. 1/2 cup vinegar and 1/2 cup sugar)+ ketsup. To make it thicker, I used 1 tbsp of cornstarch and some water and mixed it in. You can tweek the sweet and sour sauce - like you can add more sugar if you like it sweeter. 

In a mixing bowl, combine beef, onion powder, ginger powder, salt, and pepper. Mix well and form into approximately 12 large meatballs. Set aside.
I thought it said garlic powder too... but I did not put it in. followed the original recipe
-- note, I did a small meatball and fried it to do a taste test... the meatball was kind of bland so I added more salt and pepper. (maybe the recipe should be 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper)

Heat a frying pan with about half an inch of cooking oil. Once the oil is hot, quickly cook the meatballs until browned on the outside. Do not be tempted to keep cooking once the outsides are browned. Once you take the meatballs off the heat, they will continue to cook inside as they sit and wait to be served.
---don't make the oil too hot.... the meatballs will burn! Mine almost did. It came out a little darker than the picture on the website

3  Skewer the meatballs, three to a stick, and top with sweet and sour sauce. Serve the extra sauce in a shallow bowl for easy dipping.
did not bother to skewer it since I was going to taste test it

I usually do a pork meatball. I think this is my first beef one. I also asked my family to taste it and comment on it. 

Overall, it was quite an easy recipe to make. Although I think I need to make some more revisions in it to make it a little more suited to the taste of my family. One thing is that it tastes a bit more like hamburger. I was also surprised that it did not need any binders (like egg) on it. My husband thought it needed more ginger to take the "beefy" smell out of it. (noted). I still have some of the mix left and might try to grate some ginger and squeeze the juice into it to improve the taste. Might also try YUMMY's suggestion to tweak it, maybe add basil and some parmesan. I'll tell you about it when I try it.

So, maybe if you want to try some other recipes, head on over to YUMMY"s website. click HERE

Watch out for our next post where Candie will cook up a storm!


Friday, June 24, 2011

Incessant Passion for Food

I've always had passion for food; but now it's not only with eating with also with making them. I've always believed that the best way to get to know a culture is through their food because history is an inevitable ingredient in every cuisine.

I am Candie, the other lady sharing the spoon. I am single, business woman like Imelda, also with a business totally unrelated to food! I guess that's what make blogging it so fun, because it's not your job. haha

Imelda and I are both in the fashion business, she sells fabric, and we make them into clothes. We've known each other for a while now and recently we found a new common ground outside of business, baking! But our interest with food is not limited to just baking, so stay tuned for more blogs from us!

UNITED in Food

Hello readers! Welcome to our blog. This is  one of the ladies with a spoon,  Imelda.

I am a mother of three- and have a well established business not related to food at all. Both of us have other blogs (you are welcome to visit) and love to try out various recipes we chance upon in cook books and online.

Candie (the other lady of this blog) and I chanced upon our common hobby- cooking and baking. Aside from this, we both love to eat so it was only logical we try to document everything through a blog.

Come share in our adventure!!! We will share everything we will learn on the way and hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

Here's something to wet your appetite. (previous project).