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