Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Little Red Velvet Cupcakes

The first time I've ever heard or tasted of Red Velvet cake was from this place called Patisserie Caroline.  I had no idea what went into a red velvet cake and why it was made red in the first place.

I do remember though, loving my first red velvet experience.  I looooved the cream cheese icing because it was genius! haha the flavors just complemented each other very well.

I've tried a recipe before by Laura Vitale but I thought it was too sweet for my taste.  Then Chef John of Food Wishes and I used his recipe to make a batch.

So you'll need these ingredients for 12 Red Velvet Cupcakes:

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine salt (skip the salt if you're using salted butter)
1 teaspoon baking powder

4 tablespoons softened butter
1 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon red food coloring or depends on the color of red to your liking

Just mix together the wet, then mix together the dry, then mix only by hand to avoid over mixing.  I actually only used 3/4 cup of sugar instead of a cup, but realized I should have used 1 cup instead.  Never the less, they still tasted good.

A tip for buttermilk, if you can't find buttermilk, you can use 1 cup of milk and add a teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice, set it aside until it bubbles. This will make your cup cakes moist. 

Bake at 350 for about 22 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Make sure not to over bake it too because this will cause for it to dry up.  Once you start seeing the cupcake cracking, cover it with aluminum foil then continue baking.

Cream cheese frosting is the best for red velvet cake, although other recipes use butter cream icing which I think does not qualify as red velvet, but hey, I'm just a lady with a spoon with very strong opinion on red velvet cream cheese frosting. For me, if ain't cream cheese, it ain't right.

Here's a recipe of cream cheese frosting by Martha Stewart

You'll need:

1/2 cup (1 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature 
6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
 pound (2 cups) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/3 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and cream cheese until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low. Add sugar, ½ cup at a time, and then vanilla, and mix until smooth and combined, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.

You can also mix by hand, you can use the wire whisk and a spatula instead of the electric mixer, just make sure your cream cheese is really soft and in room temperature.

If not using immediately, frosting can be refrigerated up to 3 days in an airtight container; before using, bring to room temperature, and beat on low speed until smooth again.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Chicken roulade with pumpkin and kesong puti

One of the joys of having your own home is hosting your friends. It was such a treat to get together last week with my blog partner and have the opportunity to  cook and have dinner together.

One of my dilemmas was what to serve. I was frantically searching for something to cook that I went through a whole bunch of cookbooks for ideas.  Of course I had to balance the meal with something healthy.

I had subscribed to a digital magazine in ZINIO (application in both android and itunes) called CLEAN EATING. Most of the recipes are low cal. so I was quite happy to test one of them.

One of the featured ones in the november issue was this chicken roulade. I had to substitute the kesong puti (carabao cheese) for the soft cheese in the recipe. First, because I really had no idea what it was.
(anyone heard of chevre'?)

So, here is my adapted recipe

olive oil or cooking spray
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup diced pumpkin
2 shallots (sibuyas tagalog)
1/4 cup bread crumbs
2 tsp chopped sage (you can substitute dried- reduce to 1/2 tsp)
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1/4 cup goat cheese (or kesong puti)
1/4 tsp salt
6 boneless chicken breast
6 slices bacon (you can use ham)

preheat oven to 400F (you can use a turbo broiler if you don't have an oven). mist baking sheet w/ cooking spray

In a medium skillet, heat oil on medium. Add the pumpkin and shallots and cook till tender., stirring occasionally. 4-6 minutes. Transfer to bowl and stir in the bread crumbs, goat cheese, sage, pepper and salt. set aside.

Arrange chicken smooth side up on flat work surface. Using a meat mallet, pound chicken to 1/4-1/2 inch thickness. place bacon (or ham) on the work surface and top with chicken. season with salt and pepper. spread squash mixture on top of chicken and then roll. Secure with a toothpick.

Arrange in baking sheet and roast for 25- 30 minutes till internal temperature registers 165F. remove from oven and cover with foil. let rest 5 minutes. Remove toothpicks and serve.

I have to say, I was really in a rush to cook this dish. My bacon was frozen so I had to chop pieces off to wrap the chicken in. (I had to top the bacon instead). If you attempt this, you might get a better end product if you WRAP the bacon over the chicken. (there was a time constraint because I had guest coming over. It was a MASTERCHEF moment)

I also paired it with spagettini with a dulong  (small fish) pasta sauce I had on hand (w/c I bought  at a weekend market). I indicated that you need to season the chicken breast before you wrap it. The original recipe did not call for this but I felt it needed more seasoning after cutting into the end product. I don't know if the original goat cheese called for was more pungent but using kesong puti (carabao cheese) was mild. If you like it to have more "body" maybe you can experiment with a different cheese in the filling. (maybe feta?-- just make sure it's a soft cheese)

My husband had a nice solution to that though. He popped open a few bottles of wine and started pouring! Maybe he thought getting my guests drunk would make them enjoy the food more. (hahahahaha)

It was pretty good for my first "dinner" party. Maybe I could attempt a more complicated menu next time. (and maybe I can devote the whole afternoon to cooking it)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Tomato Basil Bruchetta

We had our very first dinner party (the ladies got together) at my house last week. We've been talking about this for quite some time. I was really excited to host my partner at my new house.

I decided to serve an appetizer and a main (I had no time to prepare a soup) and it was only me, Candie and my husband.(well, at first...) Candie also decided we would bake  a red velvet cupcake at my house when she arrived.

One of the best and easiest starters is bruchetta. 

You'll need:
1 french bread loaf
8 tomatoes
1/3 cup fresh basil (you can find this at the supermarket)~ chopped
2 cloves garlic minced
1-2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

slice bread and toast in the oven for about 8 minutes (you can brush with olive oil before putting in oven to make it more brown)

boil 2 cups water in a pan, make an X mark on the top of the tomatoes with a knife and dip them into the boiling water for 30 seconds. (get a water in a bowl and put some ice ~ this is called an ice bath). scoop the tomatoes from the pan and plunge into the ice bath.
By this time, the skin would be easy to peel. Take the skin off and chop in half. Remove the seeds and chop into cubes. (deseeding and taking the skin off the tomatoes makes for a nicer end product). Mix all the rest of the ingredients together.

When ready to serve, take the slices of french bread and top with the tomato mixture. Get a nice plate and SERVE!!

We kindda munched on the first batch of these while cooking the cupcakes and waiting for Candie's friend to arrive. (Hey Zara!!!) The kids also wolfed the bread down pretty quickly. (I had to make another batch)~~of course, my basil plant kindda went bald after that night... hahahaha

The crunchy bread and the sour/sweet tomato balsamic was perfect! hope you try this!

delicioso!!! (if I do say so myself!!)

Mini Chicken pot pie with herb crust

I have been doing a lot of dessert lately so I decided to do a savory pie this time. One thing about this dish is that it can be individualized-- like if you are having a intimate party for your friends. (if you want to save time, you can also make this as one big dish).

I bought some lovely cups of different sizes from Landmark and some at Gourdo's (they are quite inexpensive. I think only 25 pesos/ pc.- depending on size ~ that's about 50 cents US)-- it looks so much more presentable and it's not pricey. Don't you just love it?

TIP: Do the pastry first and leave in the refrigerator to chill.

You'll need:


2 tablespoons mixed fresh herb leaves, such as flat-leaf parsley, sage, chives, thyme, dill, rosemary, and oregano (in my case, I used sage and oregano I had in my garden)
1 large egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash


1 whole chicken (4 pounds), rinsed and patted dry 
4 cups homemade or low-sodium store-bought chicken stock 
1 large onion, halved 
2 bay leaves 
½ teaspoon black peppercorns 
3 sprigs fresh thyme, plus 2 tablespoons thyme leaves (or 1 tsp dried thyme)
1 celery stalk, cut into thirds 
5 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/4 cup)
9 ounces red potatoes, cut into ½-inch chunks (about 1 large potato)
1 leek, white and pale green parts only, cut into ¼-inch-thick rounds and rinsed well 
2 carrots, peeled and cut into ¼-inch-thick rounds 
6 ounces white mushrooms, trimmed and halved (quartered if large) -- you can use canned button mushrooms)
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting 
1 cup milk 
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon 
2 teaspoons coarse salt 
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

 1. Put chicken, stock, onion, bay leaves, peppercorns, thyme sprigs, and celery in an 8‑quart pot. Add water to cover. Cover pot; bring to a boil. Uncover; reduce heat. Simmer 1 hour. 

2. Transfer chicken to a cutting board. When cool enough to handle, remove skin and discard. Cut meat from bones; discard bones. Using a fork, shred into bite-size pieces. 

3. Pour stock through a fine sieve into a large bowl; discard solids. Set aside 2 cups stock. (Reserve remaining stock for another use.) 

4. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add potatoes and pearl onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until potatoes begin to turn golden, about 5 minutes. Add leek, carrots, and mushrooms; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes more. Add flour; cook, stirring, 1 minute. 

5. Stir in reserved 2 cups stock and the milk. Bring mixture to a simmer; cook, stirring constantly, until thick and bubbling, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in shredded chicken, chopped parsley, thyme leaves, zest, salt, and pepper. (at this point... do a taste test to see if the salt and pepper is enough) Divide chicken mixture among eight 4-by-2-inch ramekins, filling almost to top. Let cool slightly. (you can use a big pie plate if you're lazy to do individual ones)

6.Preheat oven to 375°F. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough ¼ inch thick. Arrange herbs on top; roll out dough ⅛ inch thick, gently pressing herbs.

7.Using a 4½-inch fluted cutter, (or a large coffee cup) cut out 8 rounds of dough. Brush edges of ramekins with egg wash. Place dough rounds over filling. Gently press to seal. Freeze until dough is firm, about 10 minutes. 

8. Place ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet. Brush dough with egg wash. With a paring knife, cut 4 steam vents in each round. Bake until golden brown and filling is bubbling, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool 10 to 15 minutes, and serve.

recipe adapted from Martha Stewart PIES cookbook

The herb crust really adds a lot of flavor to the usually tasteless crust. I should note that you should adjust the seasonings according to taste. I think I needed more salt and pepper in my pot pie. (taste before you put on the pastry)-- These can be kept in the refrigerator and can be reheated in the oven at a later time. (the taste actually improved in the reheating)

Get some white wine and enjoy!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sundubu Jjigae Sniffles

I used to be an exchange student in South Korea.  One of the most difficult thing that I had to adjust over there was eating their SPICY food.  The pre-Korea Candie was the lamest, non-spicy food eater, ever.  I remember my first week in Korea, I ate McDonald's for a week, denting my student pocket because it was so expensive.  I remember I had an episode of home sickness and was complaining to my mom how everything in Korea is red because they're all spicy!  I even hated Kimchi.

Fast forward 3 months later, I started speaking novice Korean and realized I loved Korean food!  The lame pre-Korea Candie is now spicy hot haha.  I could eat hot rice with just kimchi, and it would be a meal.  Especially loved the restaurant across the university where they served Kamja Tang (Potato Soup), Sam Gyop Sal (grilled bacon strips) were weekly staples with Soju!  I was basically a Korean (I already look the part anyway)! haha

A few years ago my sisters and I got a great deal and bought cheap tickets to Korea, it was my first time to go back after my exchange student program.  Anyway, I'm blabbing too much about me so I'm gonna get to the food.  haha.  The trip with my sisters to Korea was for sure a food trip!  We love Korean food and we LOVED Sundubu Jjigae!

We've been searching everywhere in Manila for Sundubu Jjigae, but Kimchi Jjigae is more popular here, and then I found Maangchi, wherelse? Youtube.

You'll need the ff:

Soup Base:

12 pcs dried anchovies -- or 1 tbsp of anchovy powder
1/3 cup of kelp

half onion
5 cloves of garlic
3 shiitake mushrooms
5 cups of water (1 cup of which is soup from clam)

For Sundubu Jjigae:

100 grams of beef
1 cup of clams
3 pcs shrimp
2 pcs green onions
1 pc green chili pepper
1/4 cup of Red Pepper Powder
2 tubes of soon du bu
2 tbsp of fish sauce
2 pcs eggs

*all Korean stuff can be found in your local Korean store or Nice Mart.

The most important part of any soup is the soup base.  Basically, it's seafood.  Koreans use alot of clams.  I like the flavor of clams, so what I did was to boil the clean clams in 2 cups of water until cooked, put a bit of ginger in while boiling to remove the fishy smell.  Measure the clam soup and add more water to make 5 cups.  Add in the all soup base ingredients and boil for about 20 minutes.

Prepare the stone pot, put it over the fire and put some oil in it, stir fry a bit of the beef for flavor and remove it again (I do this so that the beef wouldn't be too tough), I leave a piece or 2 of beef for flavor.  Then, get the boiled mushroom in soup then chop them up in medium sized pieces and stir fry.  Put about 1/4 cup of Red Chili Powder and put it in the pot then mix

Then add about 2 cups of the soup base or about 3/4 the way full then boil, try the soup if it's spicy enough for you, you can adjust the spiciness by adding more chili pepper powder.  The powder really isn't as fierce as it looks, it's actually a bit sour and a little spicy, so adjust from putting in 2tbsp to about 5tbsp to 1/4 cup -- but then again, you'll only try this recipe if you life spicy food, so add more! 

By this time, you can add in the fish sauce for flavor.  Cut the tofu packaging in half and just put all 2 pcs in then break it apart with a spoon lightly.  Do not stir it vigorously because you still want solid pieces of tofu when you eat.  Boil some more until the some thickens a bit, throw in the chopped green big chili.  At the last minute, you put in the cooked clams and beef into the soup, then mix, finally, crack in 2 eggs into the soup and boil.  Serve with tissue for the sniffles haha!

Chal Mogesumnida! :)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Chocolate cream pie

Both Ladies have been busy lately, so apologies for not posting on our regular schedule. Work is such a bummer.

I was discussing cooking with some of my friends and brought up the idea of retiring from my day job and just staying at home and cook. (yah right.. roll eyes..)

My other "taste tester" volunteered to co finance a coffee/pastry shop in case I wanted to open one.~ hahahahaha (I don't want cooking to be WORK... so not yet considering this option)

I am still cooking from MARTHA STEWART PIES. This is the first recipe on the book. Maybe because its so easy to do. Just mash, mix and freeze.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Behind the Scenes of a Wedding Cake

My friend Michelle was getting married, she actually already got married on the 30th; her brother, my friend too, Jordan, is a pastry chef, agreed to make her cake for her!  When I found out about this, I immediately pestered him to have me help out!  The only credential I have that I could present to him was that I've watched 3 seasons of Cake Boss! haha

Fondant is a paste made from sugar syrup, it is made by boiling sugar and water together , and then agitating the mixture by stirring, scraping, and kneading it as it cools.  Jordan said making fondant is time-consuming,  he said you have to knead it by hand and you can't use machine; even bakers just buy ready made fondants; but if you fancy to hassle yourself, or maybe fondant isn't available, then here's a recipe i got off the net.

Jordan made a 6-tier GORGEOUS Ivory wedding cake, all of which are made of styro except for the hald of the 5th from the top which was vanilla pound cake with lemon zest with lemon curd in the middle.  Design was I would guess, was Victorian; in which design stencil were painstakingly pinned one-by-one.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Mango marble cheesecake

One of the cupcakes from my cupcake frenzy weekend!!!The original recipe was for raspberry. Since we live in a tropical country, I could only get my hands on mango, so I turned it into a mango marble cheesecake (cupcake)

1½ cups finely ground graham crackers (about 12 sheets; use a mini chopper or food processor)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1½ cups plus 5 tablespoons sugar
3 pcs mango chopped (leave some extra for topping)
3 packs (225grams ) cream cheese, room temperature
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, room temperature

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Devil's foodcake cupcake

It's been a busy weekend. Hubby had his birthday and I decided to make several flavors of cupcake (So, you might be getting some more recipes this week) to make a cupcake "tower"

I used the Martha Stewart cupcake cookbook I mentioned in the previous post. (I really wanted to try every recipe)