Monday, December 17, 2012

Chocolate bomb cupcakes

Its been awhile since my last post. Pls forgive me. I have been busy with work and had no chance to cook.

It's Christmas once again and in our house, I am required to cook cookies and goodies for my children's classmates. So, like it or not, I HAVE to cook.

I have been wanting to try a liqueur enhanced (adult) cupcake. So here it is. This is a chocolate cupcake filled with a chocolate whiskey ganache and topped with a bailey's irish cream buttercream frosting.

Cupcake ingredients:

3 oz bittersweet chocolate chopped fine
1/3 cup dutch processed cocoa
3/4 cup coffee
3/4 cup bread flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
6 tbsp oil
2 large eggs
2 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla

For the Whiskey Ganache Filling:

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoons Irish whiskey

For the Baileys Frosting:
1 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
1.5 cups powdered sugar
4 tablespoons Bailey's Irish Cream

1. To make cupcakes: preheat oven 180C (350F). line muffin tin with liner. place chcolate and cocoa in bowl and pour hot coffee over the mixture and whisk till smooth. let cool.

2. Whisk flour sugar, salt and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside. 

3. Whisk oil eggs, vinegar and vanilla into cooled chocolate cocoa mixture and whisk till smooth. divide batter among muffin tins and bake till set - about 17- 19 minutes. cool in wire rack 1 hour before frosting.

4. To Make the Whiskey Ganache Filling: Finely chop the chocolate and transfer it to a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream until simmering and pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for one minute and then, using a rubber spatula, stir it from the center outward until smooth. Add the butter and whiskey and stir until combined. Let the ganache cool until thick but still soft enough to be piped.

5. To Fill the Cupcakes: Using a 1-inch round cookie cutter (or the bottom of a large decorating tip), cut the centers out of the cooled cupcakes, going about two-thirds of the way down. Transfer the ganache to a piping back with a wide tip and fill the holes in each cupcake to the top.

6. To Make the Baileys Frosting: Using the whisk attachment of a stand mixer, whip the butter on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally. Reduce the speed to medium-low and gradually add the powdered sugar until all of it is incorporated. Add the Baileys, increase the speed to medium-high and whip for another 2 to 3 minutes, until it is light and fluffy.

7. Using your favorite decorating tip, or an offset spatula, frost the cupcakes and decorate with sprinkles, if desired. Store the cupcakes in an airtight container.

I reduced the sugar in the frosting and added a bit more bailey's (this from comments on the sweetness of the frosting).
The whiskey added a twist to the chocolate filling and created a different dimension to it.

Pls forgive me if I lack the "how to" pics. I promise to post more pictures on the next posts.

I hope you get to try this one. It s a bit labor intensive but gets you some "wow" factor.

adapted from cooks illustrated and brown eyed baker

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Chocolate mousse

Who doesn't love a chocolatey chocolate mousse?

Yes, I know... pls forgive me if I digress from my healthy posts of late... but actually, this is one of the "allowed" desserts on maintenance. Plus it is not so hard to make. although you really need to make sure the egg whites are whipped up pretty good.

You'll need:
5 ounces of dark chocolate (semi sweet or bittersweet)
4 egg whites
2 tbsp of sugar
1 tsp orange zest
1 tbsp cointreau
you can find this in a supermarket aisle

melt the chocolate (I used a microwave but you can use a double boiler method.) -- microwave, heat on HIGH for 10 seconds, check if a little melted, heat for another 10 seconds and stir. keep repeating and checking till you melt all of the chocolate (I used chocolate buttons for easy measuring). -- why do it in 10 second bursts you ask? We have to be careful not to over heat the chocolate or it will become unusable

next, beat egg whites till soft peaks and sprinkle sugar and keep beating till you reach STIFF peaks (see picture) - this is when you lift up the beater and the meringue can stand (like a dairy queen blizzard)

beat the egg yolks with the orange zest and add the cointreau in a bowl ( I used mandarin oranges bec that was all I had)
the yolks are so orange!!!-- they are organic eggs!

Whisk the chocolate in the yolks and fold a spoonful of the white in the chocolate mixture. Slowly fold the whole chocolate mixture with the egg white (make sure you fold it gently... do not beat!)

pour the mix into your molds cover with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator - when ready to serve, garnish with shipped cream and orange zest.

This recipe is good for 4 servings.. just enough for a small get together or dinner party.

You can use different serving cups (ramekins, margarita glass, rum shots) - enjoy the pictures while I wipe the chocolate off my lips....!!!


Saturday, August 25, 2012


Having adopted a healthier lifestyle, I not consume copious amounts of yogurt. (1kilo tubs a week). Add to that my husband who is now also a yogurt freak like me and we can finish off 2 tubs a week.

One tub cost between 350-400 pesos ($8-10). So, since I was already experimenting on doing a lot of commercial stuff at home (sundried tomatoes, pesto... ketsup). I researched and found the EASIEST way to make home made yogurt.

You'll never believe how easy it is.

You'll need:

2 liters of milk (I use low fat or non fat)
1/2 cup of regular yogurt
1/4 cup non fat milk powder (if using.. can omit)
cooking thermometer
slow cooker

See? so EASY!!!!

1. place two liters of milk in your crockpot and set on high for 1-2 hours until it reaches 180C. (if you don't have a cooking thermometer, 2 hours is about ok)

2. turn off the heat. Let stand until the yogurt cools to about 110C (this for me takes about 1 hour). 110c is about "warm" when you put in your finger.

3. Mix non fat milk into the reserved yogurt and pour into the milk. Mix well.  Wrap the milk with the cheesecloth or towel and cover. Let stand 4 hours or more.

-- I usually do this at night. I start at 6pm (have dinner) and at 8pm, turn off the heat. 9pm put in the yogurt and wrap. I let it stand overnight and in the morning, I have yogurt!!-- chill in refrigerator for later use.

You can make GREEK style yogurt by straining the regular yogurt in a colander with cheesecloth and putting in the refrigerator.

The water that comes out is called WHEY. You can put it in a container and put into your smoothies. It's protein packed and boosts your immune system.

*I found the greek version better tasting than the non strained one, so I usually strain mine. All in all, it depends on your preference on how you will make your yogurt. The first time I made this, I strained half and kept the half "regular" and taste tested. You add fruits when you are going to eat it. 


PS-- will update with actual eating pic.. forgot to take picture at breakfast

PPS -- the yogurt is the "culture" and they will multiply to make more when you let it stand.. so generally you can still keep on making yogurt as long as you have 1/2 cup to add to your milk (it's a bacteria like yeast). Best is about 3-5 day old yogurt so that the bacteria is still fresh

Friday, August 10, 2012

Gluten free Vanilla cupcakes

Been into eating healthy these past few months. One of the things I want to delve into is eating GLUTEN FREE.

I have read about all the benefits of a GLUTEN FREE diet. 

So, I decided to buy some books and try it. One of them is THE GLUTEN FREE ALMOND FLOUR COOKBOOK by Elana Amsterdam. One thing about Almond flour is that is is low carbohydrate/high protein substitute for regular flour. )which is good because you don't get that insulin rush from carbs)

The recipe is pretty easy to make and I was actually not sure at the outcome. (more on that later)

One of the cons of eating healthier is that it COSTS a lot more for ingredients than regular "sinful" fare.
But when you are concerned with health, I think you have to  invest in your body.

VERY VANILLA CUPCAKES (with dairy free almond frosting)

2 large eggs, separated
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
1/2 cup agave syrup
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 1/2 cups blanched almond flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda

preheat oven to 350F (180C). line muffin cups with paper liners

In a large bowl,whisk egg yolks until pale yellow with a handheld mixer, then whisk in grapeseed oil, agave nectar vanilla extract and lemon juice.

In a medium bowl, whisk egg whites to stiff peaks. Gently fold in egg whites to yolk mixture.

In a separate bowl, combine almond flour, salt and baking soda. Gently fold into the egg mixture. Scoop batter into muffin cups.

Bake for 20- 30 minutes till tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool in pan for 30 mins. Frost if desired.

*to complete the health option, I used an almond whipping cream I discovered when I attended WOLFEX.

The company that sells this also sells almond flour and whole nuts. FRUITTI NUTTI - tel : 9759689, 2340872.  almond flour is about P350/pack and this small 16 oz cream is P300 (expensive eh?)

you can get grapeseed oil in SNR or healthy options. Agave syrup (about 700/bottle) is also available in healthy options. I will try to substitute SPLENDA with the agave syrup and see how it goes. (will update later on)

grapeseed oil is lower in cholesterol and is a good substitute for butter while agave syrup has a lower glycemic index than honey or sugar

The cupcake itself did not rise up too much... maybe because of the lack of gluten. I suggest you fill the muffin cups more till the top. Taste wise, it was quite good! Also, the whipped topping was better as you keep it more in the refrigerator. It was kind of hard to whip to stiff peaks. I refrigerated it to stiffen it more and found it improved the taste too. (the first time I tried the topping, I found it too "almondy"). I haven't tried piping it though. Might do so in the next attempt.

PS- I used 1/3 of the above box when I did the cupcakes, so the 16 oz one might yield you 3 batches worth of topping for cupcakes in this post.

PPS - these tasted better the next day after I baked them.!! moist and chewy! Most important is that I did not gain weight from eating TWO of them!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The IDEAL choice?

I HAVE arrived. Or, maybe it just feels like it since I was invited (as an"official" food blogger) to a launch of a sweetener.

This was at WOLFEX (world food expo) that was being held at SMX CONVENTION CENTER

I did a post on my other blog about it. see HERE

The launch was scheduled at 2pm and I arrived early so I can get to walk around and take pictures of the various booths. (there were tons) and can I say, the food was oh, so tempting!

The actual launch was delayed and we finally were able to go int about 2:30pm. My friend Lorraine was the host and we got to take some souvenir photos.

IDEAL is actually tauted as a NO CALORIE sweetener. One thing I noticed is that they have a BROWN sugar variety and a CONFECTIONARY sugar one. (hmmm!!!!)

This concept actually was very interesting since I DO bake a lot and would love to have a no sugar alternative for my frostings and cookies.

Durting the launch, they actually had PENK CHENG (the famous cake baker) talk about how she used the product, making blueberry streusel, teriyaki chicken and a mint orange tea. One of the other concerns about the product is how ARTIFICIAL was it?? --- the answer? - it is actually made from 99% plant sugars called XYLITOL. This was good to hear since we would like most of the thing we put into our body to be as natural as you can get.

Safe for pregnant women and children too! (this is getting better and better!)

Pretty hyped up about the product by the end of the launch and I was willing to spend some serious MOOLAH to buy the big bags of it to test at home....


Going to the booth, I was informed the product was NOT YET available and the stocks would be arriving (sometime) soon. ( wah wah wah.....)

To tell you the truth? It was a BIG letdown. My opinion so far? The company (re)launched it too soon. In launching, you should be ready for people to test it, buy it (I have YET to see it in stores)....

The company itself answered most of the questions of the audience who attended. But the proof of the pudding is in the eating right? or should I say, the baking... and I have yet to get my hands on the most prized one that I want to try... the confectionary variety!!!!

OH WELL, I still have my SPLENDA!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Parmesan Chicken

Sorry if the pictures don't do this dish justice. Can I say this was delicious? Yeah it was. Juicy too!
I was having friends over for lunch and I thought of trying this recipe I got from my BON APPETIT cookbook (w/c I can say, is really superb!)


3 cups white breadcrumbs
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (or cheddar)
6 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
4 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp dried oregano
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground pepper
1  cups butter
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
24 drumsticks

Preheat oven 350f/180c
Butter or spray with non stick a rummed baking sheet
Combine breadcrumbs, parsley, onion powder, paprika, oregano, salt, pepper in a large bowl

Melt butter in small saucepan . Remove from heat. Add mustard and whisk to blend.

Brush drumstick with butter mustard mixture , roll in breadcrumb mixture coating drumsticks
Arrange in baking sheets

Bake until golden and cooked through about 1 hour. Serve warm or at room temperature

I didn't have time to take a picture of the inside but boy... was it really juicy. smelled divine as it was cooking too. I served it with the the basil pasta I made and whopper lunch!! I guess the breading and the roasting kindda kept it really moist (compared to if you fried it)

The parmesan taste really gave it a kick (although parmesan is expensive)- you can substitute with cheddar I guess but I don't know if it will taste the same. Save the parmesan for special occasions to WOW your mother in law or something... hahaha.


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Migliori coffee maker

I admit, I am a HUGE coffee drinker. I love to drink coffee that I ordered a refurbished Delonghi machine from ebay (after much much searching) and had it shipped (it was 1/4 the price of a new one).

The Delonghi machine is quite large (I get a lot of milage since I use it everyday and you can put both beans and ground coffee in it). In the office, it would be impossible to manage (too big and expensive)

Good thing a friend offered me this MIGLIORI (also italian made). The price was cheaper than other pod based machines I have encountered

One thing I like about it, it's small (check). User friendly (check) and the pods are not so expensive (check). I can serve my customers coffee. !--- you can see I bought paper cups (not styrofoam)

The pods are also environmentally friendly (you can compost them, as what I do with my coffee grounds at home) and they are not package in foil.

One of the deterrents in buying a "pod" based coffee machine for me is the availability of the pods. Some you have to buy from abroad (imagine having a machine with no pods) and buying pods that cost 40 pesos each ($0.98). This one however, got me at.... Philippine barako (yep, they have local pods) and the price is, at the most 30 pesos for the hazelnut one. For the office, I think this is a good buy since I usually get my coffee from Mcdonalds at 25 pesos per cup (and this is DRIP coffee..not expresso)

see the froth...  (ooh yeaaah)

TIP: I can get TWO cups of coffee from one pod.. (it still has froth the second time you use the pod).. also, you can put teabags on the machine and get  tea too!!!

This machine also comes with a milk steamer (I don't have a fridge in the office so I don't use this). The flavors I like are the french roast and the hazelnut. (really aromatic!)

The Philippine coffee pods will be available within the month I was told and I can't wait to try it.

If anyone is interested, they can do a DEMO in your home or office. call (0932) 857 0462.
For the pods, they can deliver to you if you order 1500 worth. (you don't have to search high and low for it)

disclaimer: I don"t own any part of this company... I am just reviewing it.. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

I'm Back! Backpacker's Gourmet

Hi everyone, for those who do not know me, I am the other lady on the spoon that the blog title was named after, Candie.  I am the prodigal lady-on-a-spoon that has been M.I.A. for almost a year! (Sorry Imelda! :P)

Well, I have been busy with a lot of different stuff, one of which was filming an online web show / webseries / webisodes about FOOD!  So I have not totally abandoned this blog, or at least the essence of it.  It was Imelda who betrayed the foodie community, going on a diet; cooking and yet, not eating! (Que Horror!).  She recently lost a significant amount of weight, read about her success here.

Anyway, to tell you more about it, the show is produced by Dispatch Magazine Online.  It is the magazine that is being distributed in R.O.X. in Boni High Street and now independent and made available online.  

They decided to make a web series that tapped on food and travel.  I was very lucky to have been chosen as their host for the show called Backpacker's Gourmet.

Backpacker's Gourmet is a show that is going to scour through Metro Manila's best culinary gems with a budget of only Php150 per meal!  You will be surprised how many hole-in-the-wall restaurants there are that serves incredible food.

For the first series of the show, we are tapping into Lutong Pinoy.  We're gonna go around restaurants that serve Filipino food, one city at a time. Each episode showcases a city and every episode will be chopped into several parts. 

...and with all that clarifications, without further ado, here is the first part of my first episode!!!  

This was shot in 2 days, went to around 8~10 restaurants.  You can imagine how FULL I was haha...Yes, my job is really stressful.  I am still getting used to seeing my face on the camera.  I definitely have a lot to work on in terms of information I impart and definitely have to work on additional adjectives on how to say "delicious".  My experience as a tour guide definitely helps when it comes to projecting my voice and some tidbits but then again, talking to a camera and a live audience is very different.  I will blog about all the restaurants I visited after the end of every episode just for everyone's reference :)

Thanks for reading all the way to the end and I hope you enjoyed the video!  Please like Backapacker's Gourmet on Facebook to be updated on the future episodes! :D

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Lady is a WEb Host

One of the ladies has taken on a new (additional) job... and it's web hosting a show on youtube!!!

Check out Candie's first episode.-- watching her eat is actually making me hungry...

Good job Candie!!!-- I'm guessing I'll be cooking by myself for awhile while you eat your way though Manila.... =)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Hoisin chicken

If you are a parent, you might be looking for something other than fried chicken and fried spring rolls to serve your kids. I tell you now... THIS IS IT.

I have been doing a lot of baking recently and decided to have a go at a chinese recipe I got from my new book. Aside from being easy, this turned put perfectly succulent and got raves from my kids. (w/c some of my dishes do not- picky eaters that my kids are)

You can marinate this before leaving the house and roast it when you get back for a quick dinner.

1/2 kg chicken thighs or legs
1 scallion or leek (for garnish)

1 tbsp shaoshing rice wine or dry sherry
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
1/4 cup light soy sauce
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp light brown sugar
1 tbsp peanut oil
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and grated

Place all ingredients in a bowl and add chicken pieces. Toss and cover with plastic wrap and let marinade in refrigerator for 20 mins (to overnight)

Preheat oven 350f/180c

Remove chicken and roast in roasting pan (or you can use a turbo broiler) for 30 mins or until cooked through

Just before serving, pour marinade into small saucepan and boil. Drizzle over chicken , garnish with sliced leeks and serve with rice

So, how easy was that? I tell you... this is finger licking good.!!!

You can double the recipe (or triple it) if you have guests coming over... or even freeze pre-marinated and have something to whip up in a jiffy. Something so easy you'll serve this over and over again!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Meat Filled buns

One of my favorite things is meat filled buns. Particularly bbq pork buns. there is such a fullfullment to know you can make your own bread. It's not the easiest thing to do. (because you really have to invest the time to wait for the dough to rise) but smelling them coming out of the oven and seeing them all golden is heaven!!!

you'll need:

2 tsp instant yeast  (if you are buying packets, 1 packet is 2 1/4 tsp)
1 1/8 cup water
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour sifted (reserve 3/4 cup.. for adding to batter gradually)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup evaporated milk
1/3 cup butter (1/3 of 1 225gram block)

egg wash (1 beaten egg)


1. dissolve yeast in warm water. it should NOT be too cold or too hot or your yeast will die. If you have a thermometer, it should read 110C (lukewarm if you put your finger in it). set aside (about 5-8 mins) till it becomes bubbly

the yeast below has bubbled.. sign that you are good to go
2. mix 3 3/4 cup flour, sugar and salt in a separate bowl. when your yeast is ready, pour the flour mixture in. Use a dough hook (see picture) and mix at medium speed. add the eggs, butter and milk and mix again. If your dough is wet, add more of the reserved flour. By this time, your dough should be coming together to form something like a ball (left right picture)-- if it looks too wet, you can add flour 1 tbsp at a time

3. after about 5 minutes, the dough should be a little sticky but not dry. take it out of the  bowl and form into a ball. Oil the same bowl with a little oil (to save on washing a new bowl) and put back the dough. Cover with a wet towel and let rest until doubled in size (30 mins- 1 hour ). TIP: you can shorten the time by making a proofing area in your oven. take a bowl, fill with boiling water and put inside your oven. put the bowl with the dough beside it and close the door. check after 30 mins

doubled in size
4. punch down the dough and divide into 4 (for better handling). divide the 1/4 into sections and form into balls. (flour the work surface) using your hands or a small rolling pin, flatten it and put in your filling. (I ad leftover chicken adobo- taken off the bone and flaked/chopped). fold the sides and twist to seal.

5. put the sealed side down on a prepared pan (sprayed with pam or greased with butter/margarine). cover with wet towel and let rise again (30mins- 1 hour)

5. preheat oven 350F or 180C. when your dough has risen, brush with egg wash and bake in the oven for 15-18 minutes until golden

finished product
asado filling
You can actually put any filling you want. left over corned beef, bbq pork, ham and cheese. The possibilities are endless. Doing bread takes practice and patience. But the smell of it baking is something so wonderful to experience.

The rolls stay good room temperature for about 2 days. They are fluffy and soft. You can also actually make this without any filling at all. You can also opt to halve the recipe just to try it out at first because these make quite a lot of buns (unfilled)

The recipe is adapted from the Goldilocks cookbook (the proportions I found as per the cookbook, turned out a very wet dough -- something that would not form into a ball at all)

also, if you don't have a mixer with a dough hook, it would really take you quite some time mixing this to get to a solid dough. Maybe 10 minutes hand kneading. (knead it inside the bowl)

Hope you try this! enjoy!!!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Goldilocks cookbook review

I rarely do reviews. But in this case, I REALLY have to say something.

As a home cook and baker, I like to buy cookbooks and try them out. I have bought the martha stewart ones, some famous bakeries from the US ( FLOUR, TOPPOT, bon appetit).

Goldilocks has been a bakery institution in the philippines for so long. I love their butter loaf and my hubby is addicted to their caramel popcorn. So it was an easy decision to buy their cookbook.

One thing I can say by just browsing throught the recipes is that they were written in a very simple way (compared to a detailed one I have encountered elsewhere). So in trying some of the recipes, I have encountered these:

1. mislabelling of ingredients
in one recipe,( meat filled buns)  they indicated 1/2 cup of salt -- half a cup??? ( it think they meant 1/2 a tsp)

2. confusing instructions
they had ingredients in the list that were not used when you read the instructions.

another thing is when they instruct you (for the butter loaf) to put everything in with the eggs, flour and milk and then on the following line of instruction, they say to gradually put in flour and milk in alternate patterns (huh? i just put in everything like you said!!!)-- sheesh!!!

The book is so full or errors one has to wonder if they PROOF READ! I had to make notes on the side to try to adjust the recipe.

If you are a novice in the kitchen, this book will just make you frustrated. If you are a mid level cook, DON'T even bother buying this. You can find a better cookbook somewhere else.

The amount of flour- liquid ratio is wrong (in the meat filled bun) -- I'll have to explain on a later post. but this will NOT give you any of Goldilock like quality cakes. At least in the US bakeries, you get something better looking when you buy their cookbook.

What a big disappointment. EPIC FAIL

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Pasta with grilled shrimp and basil vinaigrette

I had some guests over the weekend. I wanted a light dish but something flavorful too. I bought this BON APPETIT cookbook on sale at a local bookstore and was really itching to try something in it.

I had to adapt the recipe what what I had. I was also inspired by the spinosi pasta (they look like spagettini) I still had in the pantry. It was given to us when we attended a cooking class at a local hotel. the Italian chef demonstrated some pretty cool techniques on cooking pasta.

So with a block of PARMESIANO REGGIANO  (a small one... like 150 grams) off I went to find this recipe.

4 prawns or 500 grams of shrimp. peeled and deveined
5 tbsp. lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tbsp dijon mustard
3/4 cup fresh basil chopped
1 clove of garlic
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp butter

pasta if choice

parmesan cheese (1/4 cup)

1. combine 4 tbsp lemon and dijon mustard in a bowl. whisk in olive oil and basil. Season with salt and pepper. set aside

2. place shrimp in bowl and drizzle with 1 tbsp lemon juice and 2 tbsp olive oil. sprinkle shrimp with salt and pepper

3. grill shrimp (or pan fry) with a little oil until cooked. set aside. If using prawns, cut into bite sized pieces.

4. cook pasta in pot with boiling salted water until firm to the bite ( al dente) - do not drain pasta, (you'll need the pasta water if your dish is a bit dry)

5. while pasta is cooking, sauté the garlic in a pan (about 1 min), add the shrimp and pasta (scooped from the pot) - if the pan looks dry, add a little pasta water. add the lemon/basil mixture. butter and parmesan. toss till well coated.

Serve with some garlic bread. garnish with fresh basil.

My guest loved this dish. They said it was very light and flavorful for something that doesn't look like it has anything on it.
I thought it was like something out of a restaurant actually. A keeper for sure! (I just can't make this all the time since parmesan is quite expensive)


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Cream Cheese Swirl Blondies

It was a busy busy week. I opened the fridge and saw I still had a big block of cream cheese that I bought at S&R... hmmm...

I was thinking of doing something other than my cheesecake recipe. Kindda mix it up a little. So I turned to the old Martha cookbook. Browsing through the cookies cookbook, I saw this recipe for Cream Cheese swirl blondies. Mind you, this is not an easy recipe. This had two parts to it. The regular batter and the cream cheese part that you combine in the end and swirl. (I suggest you read through the recipe and prepare the ingredients)

You'll need:

2/3 cup butter, unsalted at room temp (11 tablespoons)
1 2/3 cup plus 2 tbsp all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup packed brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup cream cheese (3/4 of one 225gram block)
1/4 cup granulated sugar

1. preheat oven to 325C (about 160C). line a 8 inch baking pan with parchment (cook and bake)

2. whisk together 1 1/2 cup flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl

3. Put 9 tablespoons butter and brown sugar in a bowl and with a paddle attachment,mix on medium until pale and fluffy- about 3 mins. add 2 eggs and 1 tsp vanilla: mix until combined. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture, scraping down side of the bowl until well combined. Transfer to large bowl

4. Put cream cheese, granulated sugar and remaining 2 tbsp butter, 2 tbsp flour, 1 egg and 1/2 tsp vanilla into a clean bowl and mix on medium with a paddle attachment.

5. pour half of the blondie mixture into the pan and spread evenly with an offset spatula. Spoon two thirds of the cream cheese mixture on top and spread evenly. Drop dollops of the remaining batter on top (spacing about 1 inch apart) and spread. Top with dollops of cream cheese mixture

6. Gently swirl cream cheese mixture with a butter knife running the knife lengthwise and crosswise throughout he layers. Bake until golden brown and toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few crumbs but is not wet. 45 mins.  Let cool slightly in the pan ( about 15 mins) and lift out. Cool on wire rack and cut into squares.

My nephew was visiting and I told him... this is like a brownie but it has cheese in it. After taking a bite, I asked him -- how was it?  (I was on a specific meal plan so I could not taste this)... his answer?

it taste like a brownie... but with cheese.!!! (hahahaha)

Anyway, I packed this for our trip to the beach and it was gobbled up on the way home. One of my friends tasted it and commented that it was ok but she preferred the regular cheesecake that I usually make. (plus black bottom cheesecake cups I made for a party one time. ) Would appreciate more feedback on this recipe from those who have gotten a taste (hint hint: vivian!!!)


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Tuscan Style roast pork

As with all my cooking, I get inspired by supermarket trips. On this occasion, I was loading up on the regular supplies when I saw this delectable rack of pork.

I haven't tried a roasted pork before. Mostly, we do a lot of fried and breaded pork chops so the concept of a beautiful pork roast appealed to me

I got this recipe from EPICURIOUS iPhone app I have on my phone.

I tweaked it a little by adding slabs of bacon on top to keep the meat moist while it's roasting... plus, bacon always makes everything taste better.

You'll need:
10 garlic cloves
1/4 cup fresh rosemary (or 1/8 cup dried)
2 tsp seasalt
1 centercut (2 kilo) pork loin tied by your butcher (see picture)
5-6 slices of bacon

note: I used a pork loin with the ribs intact. I suggest you use a deboned one for better slicing later on)
Blitz garlic and rosemary in a food processor add a bit of olive oil to emulsify the paste. Take out and mix in sea salt and pepper.  With a small knife, make 1/4 inch slits on the individual pork pieces and fill with the paste. Rub the rest of the paste  all over the pork  and let it marinate for at least 30 minutes to 2 hours.

preheat oven to 180C

After marinating, top the pork loin with the slabs of bacon, (fat side up) covering the top fully. Roast in the oven for 1 hour 15 minutes or until a meat thermometer read 155F. Take out of the oven and let stand loosely covered for 30 minutes (this is called resting the meat, so that it will remain juicy when you cut it)

Added buttered vegetables and mashed potatoes

After taking out the roast, I strained the bit on the pan and deglazed the pan with red wine and added a cup of cream. I also mixed 1/2 cup water with 2 tbsp of cornstarch ( to thicken the sauce). add pepper and salt to taste.

The roast was beautiful. With crispy bacon on top.! The only problem for me was that I purchased the one with the bone and I had a hard time chopping the individual pcs for each person. The flavor was great too. The marinade gave it such a subtle flavor and each cut was about 1 1/2 inch thick but it remained juicy inside ( the bacon element)

This is definitely worth repeating for a more formal occasion with friends. Hope everyone enjoy the pictures and try this yourself. !


Monday, April 16, 2012

Banana, caramel and date cookies

We are back people!!

Yeah, all has been quiet for some time in the cooking area. I was on vacay with the fam fam in sunny Orlando Florida.

It was exhausting to say the least... (park after park... and 12 hour difference in time doing havoc on my internal clock.-- waking up at 3, 4am)

So, after a week recovery, I FINALLY was able to cook. A friend went to PARIS (PAREE) and ate a lot of french maracons. (LADUREE). She came back and gave me a cookbook (she was planning of letting me taste the maracons but she got back earlier and it did not reach me... =(()


Here's one of the recipes from the cookbook she gave me: Ok, I know we REALLY like bananas. I also had the ingredients ready and it was an easy recipe.

You'll need:

125g (1/2 cup) butter softened
1 cup (220g) firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup (100g) mashed banana
2 cups all purpose flour sifted
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup chopped dried dates
Caramels (quartered)

Preheat oven to 180c. Line baking pan

Beat butter, sugar and egg yolk in a small bowl with electric mixer until combined. Stir in banana, sifted flour, baking soda and dates.

Roll tablespoons of mixture in balls and push a pc of caramel in the middle. -- for this I used a small ice cream scooper and pushed the caramel inside before scooping it on the baking sheet.. you can use spoons too if you don't have an ice cream scooper.

Place balls 2 inches apart on baking trays and bake 20 mins.

I bought the caramels in LANDMARK supermarket. (in case you were wondering where I got them) I also quartered them instead of halving them- as per original recipe. I was afraid they would be too big for my small cookie)

The cookies turned out great. They smelled really banana-ey. - like banana bread but in cookie form. I would still have to wait for other opinions on the taste though. But of you like bananas, this one is a keeper for sure!!