Friday, December 28, 2012

Dark Hazelnut Butter

Here's another one of my edible gifts for the holidays which will be perfect for your sweet-toothed friends who may already be feeling guilty to take another bite of that decadent chocolate cake on their nth Christmas party this year. My hazelnut butter is a healthier and guilt-free alternative to nutella or gianduja. This version is sweetened with organic agave nectar; no dairy and no vegetable oil were added. All you need is patience, lots of it, to wait until the nuts releases its natural oil and transform into a smooth paste. I also added cocoa powder for that added chocolate kick. Then I added a pinch of salt and a hint of Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans. Well,  hey! It's the holidays, might as well treat yourself, (and your lucky friends too!) to some luxury, right?

The idea was inspired by this post from The Healthy Foodie. The steps and preps are pretty much the same, but the recipe that I used is different and based on my own trial and error ;-)

Roasting Time: 12 minutes
Inactive Time: 10-15 minutes
Butter-making Time: 30-60 minutes (depending on your equipment and the level of smoothness of the butter)
Total Time: 52-87 minutes

Baking sheet
hand towel
food processor/ grinder/ blender (whichever works for you)

500 g  raw hazelnuts
2 tbsp cocoa powder
4-5 tbsp agave nectar
1/4 tsp salt
beans of 2-inch vanilla pods

1. Preheat oven to 160*C. Place the raw hazelnut on the baking sheet and roast for 12 minutes, turning halfway through the roasting time. Keep a close eye on it; you only want a light to medium roast.

2. Leave the roasted hazelnuts on the countertop to cool for a good 10 minutes or so. Slightly cooled hazelnuts will be easier to handle, the skin will become brittle and will slightly separate from the nuts. Do not cool completely though, it is best to grind it when it is still warm.

3. Transfer the nuts to a clean kitchen towel and give it a coulple of shimmy to peel off the skin.

4. Separate the nuts from the peel. Don't mind if some of the skin clings on the nuts as long as you remove most of them. Transfer into a food processor, grinder or blender, whatever you have on hand and whatever works for you.  I figure a food processor is best suited for the job but since I don't have one, the grinder performed well enough. I also don't know if a food processor would do the job faster, let me know once you tried it.

5. Grind the nuts until it forms a paste. This is where you'll need a lot of patience; the length of time will depend on how powerful your machine is and how smooth you want your butter to be. Do not be tempted to add oil, you don't need it; the nuts will release its natural oil. I found that grinding the nuts while it is still warm makes it easier to release its oil. Once you get the desired consistency, add the cocoa powder, agave nectar, salt and vanilla beans. Give it a whir for another 5 minutes until well combined. Transfer to jars and leave to cool completely before putting on the lid. You can also enjoy it straight away!

This is great for marshmallows and pretzels too!

 Put on some pretty ribbons and tags around the jars to gift to friends and loved ones.


May your Christmas be Merry and Sweet! xoxo

Edible Gifts Series
01 Dec 2012

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Vanilla Extract

I have been planning on posting holiday recipes and food crafts for months and I'm so excited to share them with you all. These are edible giftables that are easy to make but definitely not too shabby!

I love handmade gifts, it makes me feel extra special because the person who gave them put the extra effort to make them for me. And I figured, my friends and family would love 'em too! So this year, my Christmas list looks very different than my previous ones, and instead of the mall, I will be spending more time in the kitchen crafting the gifts. Check back regularly as this is going to be the first of my "Edible Gifts Series".

My first food craft is homemade Vanilla Extract made from organic Grade-A Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Beans.

Pure vanilla extract, the good ones, are quite expensive, and vanilla pods in this part of the world is a rip off! The cheapest ones sold at the groceries, (you know those lonely, dry vanilla pod in a bottle?), costs around 3BHD (8USD)! That's why I rarely use them for my regular baking and cooking. So imagine how happy I was when I stumbled upon this post by whipperberry, where she shared how simple it is to make your own vanilla extract, and it will not break the bank! I searched several recipes but I find hers to be the simplest and uncomplicated. And check out her packaging, how beautiful are they? She also recommended her online source of vanilla beans which seemed pretty good, but after further research I opted to buy from an ebay seller named Vanilla Products USA and I was very, very pleased with my purchase. My only regret is I wish I bought more! But anyway, because it was the "test" batch, I played it safe and bought just 10 vanilla pods and they are all gorgeous! It came vacuum sealed and when I opened the package, the vanilla beans were shiny, moist and plump, not like those shriveled 3-dinar pods at the groceries. The best part is, 10 pods cost only 7.94 USD! Say what?! Yup, you read it right, 10 organic prime vanilla pods cost less than 1 ugly pod available here! What a great find! The shipping was not bad at all, it costs me 6.48USD. So in total it costs me 14.42USD, 1.44USD per pod which is still not bad, right?

Here's my adaptation of the recipe:

Makes: 3 bottles

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Aging Time: at least 3 months
9 Organic Grade-A Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Beans
4 1/2 cups vodka

You will need:
3 recycled Cade bottles, sterilized and dried
small, stainless funnel
sticker labels (optional)

1. Slice the vanilla pods in the middle halfway through. Place 3 vanilla pods per bottle.
2. Fill each bottle with 1 and 1/2 cups of inexpensive vodka. Stick on the sticker labels. Store at room temperature. Do not refrigerate!

Give the bottle a shake every so often. I adore them and I pay close attention to these babies and watch them "age" beautifully over time. The extract can be used after 3 months and will keep indefinitely at room temperature.

When you're ready to give it away as gifts, you may decorate it with simple ribbons and handmade cards.

So that's my first suggestion on edible holiday gifts, made with lots of love from my kitchen. Hope you're inspired!

04 December 2012
Edible Gifts Series

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Bagoong Rice

This is one of those dishes that I made as a result of my one of those out-of-the-blue-cravings. I didn't know how to make it, but I was sure I want something home-made, not take out, (nope, not even Thailand or Mami Soup will cut it this time). So I did some research, but none of the recipes online seemed to work for me. If you cook, you know by looking at the ingredients how it's going to taste like, right? Probably the one closest to what I was dreaming of was this recipe from So that became my guide, then I adjusted it to my liking.

Though this has been well adapted as a Filipino dish, this was borrowed from our Thai neighbor. We Southeast Asians share the same love for rice! And this rice dish is one of them; it's bursting with with complex flavor-- salty, sweet and tangy, what more can you ask for? A second serving perhaps?

1 cup bite-sized pork belly
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp sugar

3 cups day-old cooked rice
1 tbsp EVOO
1/4 cup raw bagoong alamang (shrimp paste)
1 tbsp minced garlic (about 4 cloves)
2 tbsps finely chopped red onions
1 red chili, thinly cut, crosswise

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp sugar

1 egg
1/4 tsp salt

1 green mango, 3 inch-julienne
1 cucumber, 3 inch-julienne


1. Make an omelet with one egg lightly seasoned with salt. Cool for a couple of minutes and then slice thinly, (the same size as the cucumber and mango). Set aside.

2. Season the pork with salt, pepper and sugar. Fry the pork in EVOO until golden brown, about 8-10 minutes; you may adjust to your preferred doneness. Drain on paper towel and set aside. Remove some of the pork fat and reserve for later, leave 2 tbsps of oil in the pan.

3. Saute garlic, chili and onion in the same pan over medium heat for 2 minutes or until onion is slightly softened. Add the shrimp paste , sugar and black pepper. Saute until the shrimp paste change its color from pink to brownish. Add the rice and mix until well combined. Serve in a bowl and top with strips of mangoes, cucumber and omelet.

Makes 2 servings

Home-cooked Meal
06 Oct 2012

Monday, September 3, 2012

Sausage & Chorizo Hash Skillet

Sausage & Chorizo Hash Skillet - All Rights Reserved © Haidee Vaquer 2012

I was watching an episode of Cooking for Real by Sunny Anderson on Food Network 2 weeks ago when my husband joined-in. Normally he would ask me to change the channel, but when he saw what was cooking, a breakfast skillet with chorizo and beef hash, he was intrigued and watched the show with me. When the dish was done, he said, "Oh my God, that looks so good!" "Would you like me to make some for you tomorrow?", I asked. And he answered with a resounding, "Yes, please!"

 So the following morning, which happens to be a Saturday, I made him a breakfast skillet. It was not exactly the same dish prepared by Sunny; hers was chorizo and ground chuck hash, mine was with sausages... big and chunky sausages!

The Sausage and chorizo pair is a match made in heaven, they complimented each other perfectly; it's a spicy-savory combo. Add some potatoes and crack a few eggs on top and it's one good brekky-in-a-pan! A great way to start anybody's day. My husband loved it so much he requested an encore last weekend!

So here it is, my Sausage and Chorizo Hash Skillet.

Difficulty: Easy

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 20-25 minutes
Total Time: 30-35 minutes


1/2 of 225 g Chorizo Burgos, finely diced
4 pcs (225 g) pork sausages, skinned and crumbled
1 large (approx. 2 cups) potato, diced
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
4 eggs
2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), add as needed
1/2 tsp salt, adjust to taste
1/2 tsp pepper, adjust to taste
1 tbsp chopped parsley, garnish

Groceries Tips for my Bahrain-based readers: I used Broad Oak Farm Pork Sausages and La Cordobesa Chorizo Burgos; both can be found in the pork section of any Al Jazira Supermarket.


1. Preheat the oven to 180*C.
 Tip: You may pop in the skillet in the oven while you prep; that will save you time on pre-heating the skillet on the stove-top.

2. Heat the EVOO in the skillet and swirl it around to coat the inside of the skillet. Cook the sausage and chorizo for 3-4 minutes. Do not cook all the way through, just enough for the sausage to release some of it's oil but the meat are still medium cooked and tender. Transfer the meat in a bowl and leave the oil in the pan.

3. In the same oil, sauté the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Cook covered for 8-10 minutes until the potatoes are done but still firm, stirring every 2 or 3 minutes. You want the edges of the potatoes to brown but not burnt!

4. After 10 minutes, add the garlic and onion and cook for another 2-3 minutes until the onion is semi-translucent. Feel free to add EVOO if needed.

5. Add the sausage and chorizo and stir until well mixed. Taste for seasoning. 

6. Make 4 indentations and crack eggs on those dents. Pop it in the oven for 5 minutes or until the eggs are cooked to your preferred doneness. Garnish with chopped parsley and freshly cracked pepper. Serve with toasted crusty bread and herbed butter.

Makes a hearty servings for 2.

 31 August 2012
Home-cooked Meals

Sausage & Chorizo Hash Skillet - All Rights Reserved © Haidee Vaquer 2012

Sausage & Chorizo Hash Skillet - All Rights Reserved © Haidee Vaquer 2012

Monday, August 13, 2012

Mongolian Beef

Here's another dish that spawned from gawking in Pinterest, P. F. Chang's Mongolian Beef Copycat Recipe by Six Sister's Stuff. When I saw the picture, my mouth started to water! I gotta have some! No, I gotta make some!

Now, there's no P. F. Chang's here in Bahrain and I have never tried their Mongolian Beef so I have no way of telling you whether that recipe is as good as that of P. F. Chang's, but what I can tell you is that the mongolian beef that I made adapted from that recipe was good...really good.

For my recipe, I made some modifications; a little plus/minus on the ingredients, (like the garlic, I needed more garlic!), and I have my way of cooking the beef. I like to sear the beef until the edges are caramelized and the only way to do that was to fry by batch. It's a little more tedious but sealing the flavor pays off for the extra time spent frying them.  So, if you want the original P. F. Chang's copycat recipe, (original copycat haha!), click the link here. For my version, keep reading. And oh, make sure you've got bowlfuls of steamed white rice.

Difficulty: Medium

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 20-25 minutes
Total Time: 30-35 minutes

500 g flank steak, thinly sliced into bite sized pieces
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup vegetable oil, for frying, (after cooking the beef in it, reserve 1 tbsp of the beef oil)
1/2 tbsp ginger, minced
2 tbsp garlic, minced, (the original recipe called for 1 tbsp, but I love garlic so I doubled it!)
1/2 cup soy sauce 
1/2 cup water 
1/2 cup dark brown sugar 
1 tsp sesame oil (optional)
1/4 cup chopped scallions
1 tsp sesame seeds, lightly toasted*
*Tip on toasting the sesame seeds: Place the sesame seeds in a dry pan. Heat the pan over medium heat and shake the pan every couple of seconds to make sure the sesame seeds are evenly toasted. Keep a close eye on it, it only takes 1-2 minutes to toast the seeds.


1. Heat the oil in a wok or skillet.

2. Season the beef with salt and pepper. Dredge the beef in flour then put the beef in a sieve to shake off excess flour. You only want a thin coating.
3. Sear the beef by batch, just enough to cover the wok. Do not overcrowd the wok. You want each piece to nicely brown on the edges on both sides, but be careful not to cook it all the way through as it will cook further when you put it back into the wok with the sauce. Drain over paper towels. Repeat the process until all the beef slices are cooked. Set aside.

4. Remove most of the oil from the wok but leave 1 tbsp of the oil. Saute garlic and ginger for 1 minute over high heat. 
5. Add the soy sauce, water and sugar and boil until the sugar is dissolved and the sauce thickens, about 2-3 minutes. Add the beef and toss until well coated. Let simmer for another 2 minutes to infuse the sauce into the meat. Just before you turn off the heat, add the sesame oil. 
6. Serve garnished with toasted sesame seeds and scallions on top.

Makes 2 servings

Home-cooked Meals
07 Apr 2012

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Zaru Cha Soba or Cold Green Tea Buckwheat Noodles

If you have been following my blog for quite some time, you will notice that most of the dishes I cook are easy to prepare. And that's mainly the point of my blog; I would like to encourage the working moms out there that preparing a home-cooked meal is not only doable, it can be fun too and surprisingly a stress-reliever. What's more, you get to choose what you put on the table and what's in it, which sometimes means a healthier version of your favorite meal. And did I mention the dinars you'll save from cutting down on home delivery and eating out? Yeah, some of my favorite resto dishes are so easy to prepare, and I save heaps making it at home, without sacrificing on the quality of the ingredients.

One of my favorite is this Japanese noodle, zaru soba or cold buckwheat noodles. Yes, the noodles are served cold, sometimes on a bed of ice and served with a hot dipping broth.

This version is actually Zaru Cha Soba or Cold Green Tea Buckwheat Noodle. And here's how I make it.

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes

400g dried cha (green tea) buckwheat noodles
water for boiling the noodles
a big bowl of ice cubes

For the Hot Broth:
4 tbsp dashi granules
4 cups water
1/2 cup mirin
1/2 cup Kikoman soy sauce
1/3 cup chopped scallions

Toppings & Garnish:
shredded nori (dried seaweeds), as desired 
togarashi (red chili flakes), as desired
toasted sesame seeds


1. Place Cha noodles in boiling water and cook as directed in the package. Drain and transfer the the noodles on a bowl of ice cubes. Set Aside.

2. In a sauce pan, dissolve the dashi granules in water and bring up to a boil. Bring the heat down then add mirin and soy sauce. Simmer for 1-2 minutes.

3. To serve, transfer the cold soba on bamboo soba plates, garnish with nori, sesame seeds and togarashi. Alternatively, you may put ice cubes on serving bowls then top it with the soba to keep it chilled. Have a small dipping bowl of broth on the side, add scallions to the broth as desired. Dip, slurp and enjoy!

Makes 2 servings

Home-cooked Meal
24 Oct 2011

Friday, July 27, 2012

Spaghetti Bolognese

One my favorite and go-to recipe is Spaghetti Bolognese. I always have dried spaghetti and the necessary ingredients in my pantry to make this dish so I can make some for unplanned meals or sudden cravings. This is where dried herbs and spices come in handy. I have a variety of of them. For years they lie hidden in my cupboard...but not anymore!

Recently, I started a DIY project; I recycled Starbucks coffee bottles and turned them into spice jars. I so love 'em! They're great functional accessories on my kitchen countertop.

For more photos and to see my other DIY kitchen projects, click here.

Ok, going back to bolognese. This recipe is my no-fuss version; dried pasta, dried herbs, canned tomatoes, everything that you might have available in your pantry. I use dried herbs when I only plan to use a little as it pains me to waste leftover herbs, they are expensive! And unless I find real good tomatoes, I use the canned ones because the flavor is consistent. But if there is one thing that I try not to compromise is the cheese. I buy fresh block of parmigiano reggiano and NOT the bottled, powdery ones. It's just not the same, the taste of freshly shaved cheese is exponentially better! Just buy a small block, enough for the dish you're serving. I tell you, it will make all the difference.

So here it is, my Spaghetti Bolognese.

Difficulty: Medium

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

500 g dried spaghetti
2 L water + 1 tsp salt  + 1 tsp olive oil for boiling the spaghetti*

 400 g minced beef
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt, adjust to taste
1 tsp freshly ground pepper, adjust to taste
3-4 tbsp EVOO
6 cloves of garlic, minced 
1 tsp dried oregano, (or 1 tbsp chopped fresh fresh)
2 tsp dried basil, (or 2-3 tbsp chopped fresh basil, more for garnish)
1/2 tsp dried thyme, (or 10 sprigs of fresh thyme, stems removed)
1 dried bay leaf
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
1/2 green capsicum, diced
1/2 cup red wine
1 1/2 cups water*
400 g canned whole tomatoes, drained, seeded and roughly chopped
425 g tomato sauce
135 g or 6 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp honey
100 g parmigiano reggiano, shaved
chili flakes, optional
chopped fresh parsley for garnish, optional

Note: You may use the starchy water from the cooked pasta for a richer texture.

1. Season the beef with 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper and 1 tbsp soy sauce. Set aside.

2. Cook the pasta in salted boiling water until al dente. Set aside.

3. Meanwhile, heat the EVOO and saute the minced garlic for about 30 seconds. Add the dried basil and thyme for another 30 seconds. The herbs will release it's flavor when sauteed in oil. Add the onions and cook until softened.

4. Add the beef and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the the wine to deglaze the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes until the liquid is reduced and the meat is cooked.

5. Add the carrots, tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste and water and bring to a boil. Taste for seasoning before you add the honey.

5. Add the pasta to the sauce.

6. Serve with shaved parmigiano reggiano, chili flakes and freshly ground pepper on top and garnish with chopped parsley.

 Makes 4 Servings

Home-cooked Meal
14 Jul 2012

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Easy Berry Pavlova

I have been craving for pavlova for about a month and I was frustrated that I can't find one in any of my favorite patisseries and cafes in the island. So what's a craving girl to do but make her own dessert? Luckily, I don't have to slave myself in the kitchen because I found a box of perfectly-shaped meringue nests at Waitrose. Yey!

For this post I only used blueberries but other berries work really well too-- strawberries, raspberries and blackberries. You should try physalis and red currant too, they are absolutely fabulous!

Now, I can enjoy my pavlova with my afternoon tea.

Difficulty: Easy

Prep Time: 15-20 minutes

1 box meringue nests, (8pcs, 2.5in diameter)
400g fresh blueberries

For the sweetened whipped cream:
250mL whipping cream
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Red wine syrup, (for the recipe, click here.)


1. Whip the cream in a stand mixer with whisk attachment. When it starts to thicken, add sugar and vanila and continue to whip until firm. Careful not to over beat or the cream will curdle.

2. To assemble: Put the meringue in individual dessert plate. Top with a generous dollop of whipped cream and fresh blueberries. Drizzle with red wine syrup. Serve immediately.

Makes: 8 servings

30 June 2012
Home-made Dessert

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Churros con Chocolate

"If you can't find 'em, make 'em."

That has been my motto since I moved to the Middle East, well at least when it comes to food. One of the reason I pushed myself to learn how cook is to recreate the dishes that I miss back home in the Philippines. I remember how frustrating it was when I was pregnant craving for a Henlin siomai. Thank goodness I was able to convince myself Hongkong Restaurant's siomai was good enough. But I have yet to find a Spanish restaurant that is up to my standard. I'd still claim I make the meanest paella in the island!

Another favorite comfort food and feel good snack that I miss is churros. My favorite is Dulcinea's Churros con Chocolate. If I'm having a bad day, I go grab some and as soon as I dunk the churros into that rich hot cocoa I miraculously feel much better. Ok , I may be exaggerating but you get my point. It is pure, simple pleasure.

So here's my first attempt in making churros. I struggled a bit because my icing nozzle was small, but the taste was phenomenal! I. Am. Home.


Difficulty: Medium

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Inactive Time: 20 minutes*
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
*You can use the inactive time to heat the frying oil, prepare the dusting powder and the hot chocolate

2 cups water
1 stick unsalted butter
4 tbsp granulated sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
4 eggs, room temperature
1 tbsp vanilla extract
canola oil for frying
For dusting:
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon powder


1. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

2. In a saucepan, place water, sugar and butter and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat and transfer the liquid mixture in a stand mixer. Add flour and vanilla and whisk using a paddle attachment. Add eggs, one at a time until well combined.

3. Transfer the mixture in a piping bag with star tip*. Pipe the mixture in any shape you want; I made 3-inch petal shaped churros and 4-inch sticks. Freeze for 15-20 minute.
Note: It is ideal to use a large star-tipped nozzle. The one I have is pretty small so I didn't get the desired size. 

4. Meanwhile, heat the oil for deep frying until it comes up to your desired temperature.
Note: I don't use a thermometer; I gauge that the temperature is hot enough when I dip the tip of my wooden spoon onto the oil and it starts to sizzle around the spoon. Also, when I put the mixture in, it should dive up to the middle of the pan and rise up; if it sinks to the bottom of the pan, the oil is not hot enough, and if it rises too quickly to the surface, the oil is too hot.

5. Have your dusting powder ready before you fry the dough. Combine sugar and cinnamon in a paper bag and shake.  Transfer on to a bowl. Set aside.

6. When you're ready to fry, cut the parchment paper around the frozen dough and fry the dough with the paper. Once the paper separates, fish it out immediately. Fry just enough number of dough to leave plenty of room for the churros to float freely. This will avoid the dough from sticking together and to keep a steady temperature. Once the surface of the dough is golden brown, fish it out and transfer to a wire rack.

7. Dunk the churros onto the dusting powder and generously coat it.

 Now for the Tableya Chocolate (Tab-li-ya Cho-ko-la-te). Tableya is a pure cacao or dark chocolate tablet/balls native in the Philippines. Where I come from, we boast to have some of the best tableya in the country. You can read more about tableya here.

Tableya chocolate brings back nostalgic memories about my childhood. When I was young growing up in Batangas, my grandparents had cacao trees planted in their backyard. My Lola (grandmother) would pick the cacao seeds inside the fruit and let it dry under the sun for a couple of days. She would then roast the seeds over a wood burning earthen stove. Then she would manually grind the cacao several times, gradually adding brown sugar, until she gets the right consistency and the chocolate is shiny as it releases the oil. Finally she would form it into a ball and let it set and harden. There is no better way to enjoy "tsokolate-eh" (hot cocoa with milk) and "champurado" (chocolate porridge) than with a tableya. It's 100% pure chocolate heaven.

Here's my version of this ultra-rich hot cocoa or Chocolate

Difficulty: Easy

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes

1 cup powdered tableya (*grate the tableya using microplane zester/grater)
2 cups full cream milk
1/2 cup double cream
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
a pinch of freshly ground nutmeg


1. Combine the tableya, sugar, milk and double cream in a "batirol" or saucepan and heat over low heat. Whisk using "molinillo"; if you don't have one, use a metal whisk or a wooden spoon instead. Keep stirring/whisking until the cocoa and sugar is completely dissolved.

2. Add the vanilla, cinnamon and ground nutmeg. Remove from heat. Serve immediately.

18 May 2012
Home-made Dessert

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Bacon-wrapped Green Beans

Here's another crowd-pleaser at the dinner table-- bacon-wrapped green beans, specifically long beans or "sitaw" in Filipino. It's a great way to sneak in some veggies into your family's diet. I mean, who can resist something wrapped in bacon?

This was inspired by the recipe I pinned which is linked to Mo'Betta blog. If you want to view her recipe, click on the link here. Mine is slightly different, read on.

Difficulty: Easy

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 60 to 70 minutes

500g long beans, cut 3in long
400g smoked bacon
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp EVOO
freshly ground salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 200*C.

2.  Blanch the beans in salted water for 30 seconds to 1 minute until the beans is slightly cooked. Give it a shock bath in iced water to stop the cooking process and preserve the bright green color. Drain and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

3. On a cast iron skillet, heat the oil and fry the bacon until it's cooked but not crispy. Set aside and save the bacon fat rendered.

4. Wrap 6 pieces of beans in half a slice of bacon, about 5 inches long.

5. Saute the garlic in the skillet with rendered bacon fat until slightly browned. Transfer the garlic and oil in a small bowl and set aside.

6. Arrange the bacon-wrapped greens in the skillet. Brush the top with the garlic-oil mixture. Bake in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes until the bacon is golden brown with crisp edges. Serve immediately.

Makes 3-6 servings.

03 May 2012
Home-cooked Meals

Friday, June 1, 2012

Double Fudge Cookies

Double Fudge Cookies

I'm really excited to share this recipe. The reason is first, this is one of my family's favorite treats, and second, I've finally perfected making the cookies moist and really fudgy. Yes, no more hard, crumbly cookie!

My idea of a perfect cookie is crisp on the outside and soft and moist inside, sort of brownie-ish. It used to be hit and miss. After several researches and experiments, I finally got it! And I consistently get the result that I want, hooray!

What's the secret? Well, secrets... I got 3 of 'em: First, use half of the butter called for the recipe and sub the other half with an equal amount of vegetable oil. So, if the recipe asks for 1 stick of butter, (which is equivalent to 1/2 cup butter, softened in room temperature, not melted!), just use half a stick and add 1/4 cup of vegetable oil. I tell you, it'll make all the difference. The second secret is underbaking it. If the recipe calls for baking for 15 minutes, I suggest taking it out 3-5 minutes early. I keep a close watch on my cookies and as soon as the edges are slightly browned, I take it out of the oven, slide the cookies onto the cooling rack, parchment paper and all, to stop the cooking process. That will keep the center of the cookie moist.
*The third secret is in the sugar-- the darker the sugar, the softer your cookie will be.
 (*New update as of 24 Apr 2013)

So there you have it! Try it and let me know what you think.

Difficulty: Medium

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Inactive Time: 20 minutes
Baking Time: 8-10 minutes per tray
Total Time: 1 hr 20 minutes
Note: If you're baking 2 cookie sheets per batch, you'll cut the baking time by 20 minutes.

Makes 5 dozens


2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 stick butter, room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup muscovado sugar
2/3 cup granulated white sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 dark cocoa powder
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (or dark chocolate chunks or mixed)


1. Preheat oven to 190*C.

2. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.*
    *Note: I line my cookie sheets with parchment paper even if they are non-stick. That way, I can re-use the tray to bake several batches. I just slide off the cookies, parchment paper and all, onto the cooling rack, pop the sheet into the freezer for quick cooling, and re-use it to bake another batch. 

3. In a bowl, sift together flour, salt and baking soda. Set aside.

4. In a stand mixer, combine both sugar, butter, vegetable oil, vanilla extract, eggs and cocoa powder over medium speed. Gradually add the flour mixture. Then add the chocolate chips.

5. Cover the cookie dough with cling film and pop it in the fridge for 20 minutes.

6. After 20 minutes, scoop about a tablespoon of cookie dough onto the baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Makes 12 cookies per sheet. Pop in the oven to bake for 8-10 minutes.

Here's a photo of my recent late night baking posted on instagram. For this batch, I used 1 cup of Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips (60% cacao) and 1 cup (2 bars) of Galaxy milk chocolate, cut into chunks. Follow me at:
double fudge cookies -

26 May 2012