Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Carrot Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Don't you just hate it when you are craving for something and you know that nothing can satisfy that craving until you make it yourself? Well, I found myself baking in the kitchen in the middle of the night doing exactly that.

This is the best carrot cake recipe that I have encountered. This recipe is from Delores Custer, a food stylist who came to Manila a couple of years ago (2007, I think) to teach a short seminar about food styling. Anyway, I know that I blogged it here somewhere but I didn't publish the recipe. This Carrot Cake is very moist. I made some adjustments on the frosting, as you may notice in my pics, the frosting is not very fluffy since I had to drastically cut the sugar to prevent it from being too sweet. More sugar makes the frosting prettier and fluffier though.

Custer’s Carrot Cake

2 cups cake flour, sifted
2 cups sugar
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs, room temperature
3 cups shredded carrots
1 tsp vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Line cupcake tins and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
4. Blend in vegetable oil.
5. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then mix in carrots and vanilla (by hand or with an electric mixer.)
6. Pour batter into 3/4 full into prepared cupcake tins. Bake for 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Mine baked perfectly at 18 minutes.
7. Let cool completely then frost with cream cheese frosting.

Note: The batter will rise up and bubble a little bit while baking. Filling cupcake tins only halfway worked better for me. Less of the the "lava" effect but resulted in a smaller daintier cupcake.

Cream cheese frosting (My version)

1/2 bar cream cheese, softened
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) Butter, room temperature
1 1/4 confectioner’s sugar, sifted (or to taste)
1 tsp vanilla

1. In a medium bowl of an electric mixer, beat together cream cheese and butter until creamy.
2. Gradually add sifted confectioner’s sugar and vanilla, mixing well until smooth and of spreading consistency. This will take a while to really come together, about five minutes or so.


Monday, March 29, 2010

Beef Pares

If you haven't eaten in a street side carinderia or Goodah, you probably wouldn't know what a Beef pares is. "Pares" be definition, means "pairs" in Tagalog. I have no idea why this dish got its name because when I ordered it the first time, there was no other dish with it except the lone "pares" with rice and some clear soup. Maybe it's best paired with rice, duh!

Anyway, hubby likes this dish and I've made it several times in the past. This is a very easy recipe:

1/2 kilo Beef Ribs
1 Star Anise
2 Bay Leaves
Chopped onion
Chopped Garlic
1 to 2 tablespoons Soy Sauce
1 to 2 Tablespoons Sugar

1. Boil Beef with star anise and bay leaves until tender about one hour on a pressure cooker, longer in a stovetop.
2. Separate beef from broth and set aside. Discard bay leaves and star anise.
3. In a separate pan, saute onion and garlic. Add the stock and some soy sauce and sugar. Mix well.
4. Add the beef and simmer for a few minutes. Add cornstarch dissolved in a little bit of water to thicken.

I pared it with some baby corn sauteed in garlic and oyster sauce which wasn't a very good combination with the Beef Pares.

I guess, the Beef Pares really does go well with just rice and some clear soup :-)

Hap Chan in BF

There’s a newly opened branch of Hap Chan in BF where Shakey’s used to be. Hubby and I tried Hap Chan after mass last night.

It was still quite early. Barely 7:00 p.m. when we arrived and the place was packed. That’s a good sign. Or so I thought. Hap Chan has been in business (in other areas) for quite some time now. I remember dining in one of their QC restaurants way back when I didn’t have a blog yet. I remember liking their dimsums.

Hubby had the Noodles with beef ball, pork ball and shrimp ball, which he liked. The base was chicken soup so it was quite safe and palatable but nothing special.

Hubby and I shared the Jellyfish with Century Egg. This is a cold salad of sorts with the jellyfish marinated in sweet, sour and spicy dressing which turned out to be more spicy that sweet and tangy, the jellyfish tasteless.

I ordered the Crispy Oyster Cake which turned out anything but crispy. This soggy oniony mess was a huge disappointment both in taste and texture. The omelet was way too oily and tasteless, the oysters too small and too few.

Even hubby’s Mango Sago, failed miserably on many levels. One, the tapioca was still frozen. Second, there was no fresh mangoes in it. Third, it was sour.

Our dimsum orders of Beef Ball and Shrimp Siomai failed to be delivered to our table and had to be cancelled by my irate hubby.

Hap Chan BF, though new and full, may fail to win loyal customers in the future. The service was excruciatingly slow, orders unfilled, wrong billing are among the problems encountered by us and our neighboring tables. There were many irate customers last night who only got their orders after waiting for half an hour, wrong orders, bills took too long to be given to them.

There’s another Chinese Restaurant in BF called Toho Antigua, which may fail in the beauty and presentation department but, they do pass the food taste and quick service criteria with flying colors.

For Chinese food in BF, I suggest you spend your money in Toho Antigua instead, better food and quicker service for practically the same price.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Savory Cheese Cupcake

You know when you have that dreadful craving for the stuff that you used to eat when you were a child? I remember one of my favorite baked treats was a cheese cupcake wrapped in plastic that you buy in a supermarket or at a school cafeteria. Back then, there weren't any sophisticated varieties available anywhere. Well, none that I know of anyway.

I've been having that craving again. The ones in the market now are not as good as I remembered them. I baked some tonight from a vague recipe that I saw on the net. The recipe obviosly needs a bit more tweaking. The batter turned out a bit dry after baking. I watched the cupcakes carefully and tested its doneness. Anyway, I would probably cut down on the flour a little bit next time to have a less dense cupcake. The condensed milk though very yummy, was a bit too thick for the kind of fluffyness that I want. Come to think of it, the ones from my chilhood was dense too albeit shinier than my version.

In case you're interested, here's the recipe that I used:

Savory Cheese Cupcake


1 cup butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 can condensed milk
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3 cups all purpose flour (I suggest to add less)
1 cup grated cheddar cheese, divided

1. In a bowl, sift together flour and baking powder. Set aside.
2. In another mixing bowl, cream butter until fluffy.
3. To the butter mixture, add sugar and beat well.
4. Add eggs, one at a time, incorporating well after each addition.
5. Add the sifted flour and baking powder to the batter, followed by the condensed milk. Do this alternately ending with the milk.
6.Mix in half of the grated cheese. Bake for 20-23 minutes to a 350 degree pre-heated oven.
7. Halfway through baking, add the rest of the grated cheese and top. Put back into the oven and continue baking until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

These babies are dense, one cupcake is more than enough to satisfy your hunger.

The cupcakes turned out delicious, but not gourmet quality...Back to the drawing board.


Hubby liked the cupcake and woke me up when he arrived to tell me how good it was :-)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Korean-Style Beef Stew

I came across this recipe in a Good Housekeeping Recipe collection and it seemed easy enough to do. I made a few changes which I think made it better.

This is as simple a recipe as you can possible get for Korean Style Beef Stew with just a handful of ingredients usually available in your pantry.

You will need:
1 Kilo Beef ribs or Shanks (I only had shanks in the freezer). Beef ribs would work better
Salt and pepper
5 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 cup light brown sugar
Pink of Red Pepper flakes
2 -3 Stalks of leeks, sliced diagonally, white portion only
4 thin slivers of ginger
3 Tablespoons of Mirin
1 Tablespoon Sesame Oil
1 Tablespoon Sesame seeds for garnishing
Bean sprouts (on the side)


1. In a pressure cooker or a stockpot, cover the beef with water until completely immersed. Boil beef with salt and pepper until tender. About one hour in a pressure cooker or about 2 hours, stovetop boil. (Slow boil in a stovetop is much better).
2. Remove from heat an add soy sauce, brown sugar, red pepper flakes, ginger and leeks to the beef, mix well to dissolve the sugar. Boil, medium heat, on a stove top for another hour or until the stock is reduced in half or until the meat falls off the bone.
3. Five minutes before you finish boiling it, add the Mirin, sesame oil and sesame seeds.
4. Serve piping hot with some bean sprouts on the side.

I recommend using New Zealand beef from S&R because the cows are grass fed and the meat is just sooo tender and delicious.

White Hat

Frozen Yoghurt is all the rage here in Manila. Less sinful than an ice cream but equally yummy. My favorite so far is White Hat. The nearest one close to home is located at Alabang Town Center. I love their frozen yughurt which White Hat claims to be some sort of Yoghurt gelato. Regardless of what it's called, I love love their frozen yoghurt because they have just the perfect sweetness and just a tiny hint of sourness. White hat also has the most choices of toppings from fruity, cakey and candy-y. White hat will satisfy any sweet-tooth around.

Hubby ordered something called "The Clown" with candy sprinkles, mini marshmallows and M&Ms. Very sweet toppings, just like hubby :-)

I had the more sensible one with Mangoes and Almonds. Which was very good, refreshing, fruity with a bit of crunch.

You can buy the frozen yoghurt, in small and large servings with whatever topping you like, or buy them in pints and gallons to take home.

Super Late Lunch at Cyma

Ok, I've been out of the hospital for almost two weeks now. Yet, I still find myself being poked, prodded and examined by doctors. I have one more test to go and one more ultrasound and then hopefully, it will put an answer to whatever ails me. Fortunately, looks like nothing serious.

Anyway, after being put on impromptu fasting for six hours to get a blood test, I was extremely irritable and hungry come 3:00 p.m. I was desperately craving for some good food. Cyma is my fuel of choice. I ordered the Mozzarella - Saganaki (flaming cheese) since I just loveeeeet to bits. Some salad, and my favorite Cyma dish, the Swordfish Souvlaki. Halfway through the Saganaki, I was already full but still greedy from being deprived of food for six hours. Ha ha ha.

Cyma, the absolute sosyal comfort food. Go ahead, indulge, I know you want to :-)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Lunch with High School Buddies

This year will mark the 20th anniversary of my high school graduation. My batchmates have been meeting monthly to discuss our upcoming grand reunion. I've been unable to attend the meetings due to some previous engagements. I invited some of my friends over for lunch through the social network, Facebook. I haven't seen almost all of them for two decades!

I prepared simple dishes since I'm still recuperating from my hospital stay and would have to take it easy for a while.

I served vegetable salad with sour cream and cilantro dressing.

Nilagang Baka.

Grilled Liempo.

Baked Chicken.

Sweet and Sour Fish.

Fruit Salad (not in photo)

For merienda, I made some baked macaroni with garlic bread.

It's nice catching up. So much fun.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Lookie lookie

Look at our newly hatched birdies hiding in the bushes!

We found the mama bird and the papa bird building a nest in our verandah a few weeks ago and now the eggs have hatched. The mama bird was out looking for food and I was able to take a quick snapshot of the chicks.

I don't know what kind they are, they're not brown sparrows (brown maya) but longer and grayish in color. We always find the mama bird and the papa bird bathing in our small fountain in the garden.

Check out the nest, it's so perfectly round.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Back Home

I'm back home after spending four days in Asian Hospital. Glad to be home. Thank you for the calls and well wishes from family and friends :-)

I'm doing fine now. A bit weak, and would be resting for a few days to regain my strength.

I've had quite a few tests during my stay at the hospital. The doctors mainly agree that the cause of my weakness is Anemia. The culprit probably is blood loss overtime during my periods. My ultarsound also suspects polyps and myoma. We will get more definitive results once I get another ultrasound when the uterine lining has shed off during my period (it's tough being a girl!).

Anyway, my cardiologist also put me in a Holter monitor, to see which activities trigger the skipped beats. I would like to think that my heart just compensates for lack of blood. I won't know the results 'till Saturday. He would also like to put me on a Treadmill Test, when I am strong enough. I'm nervous about that since I'm a bit of a couch potato and the last time I ran was when I played patintero during my childhood years. Ha ha ha :-)

I've also had an immunologist check my blood for auto immune disease. That would probably be negative since I've been relatively healthy. My cholesterol is normal, my LDL is just a wee bit high, my weight is within the normal range, my heart ventricles are normal.

I'm thinking positive that all these hoolabaloo is just caused by Anemia which can be cured by transfusing blood (thank you for the selfless donors from Red Cross, I have two units running through my veins), eating green leafy vegetables and an iron supplement which my docs have put me on, twide daily.

I'll have rosy cheeks in no time! :-)

Friday, March 5, 2010

Back in Asian Hospital

Here I am, connected to an oxygen tank, dextrose and bored in my hospital room in Asian Hospital.

I complained of chest pains and difficulty breathing last night. Hubby went home immediately and took me to the emergency room. Good thing that he did, too. My hemoglobin was dangerous low. If I wasn't taken last night, I would have collapsed somewhere!

I'll have more tests tomorrow so that my doctors can figure out what's wrong with me. I am hoping that there is no need for a blood transfusion. I'm currently on oxygen since my heart is not beating properly. Thank goodness, my tests came out negative for a heart attack. It's very uncomfortable moving around connected to a "leash".

I feel fine, except for some weakness and boredom.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Summery Trifle

Hubby and I felt a bit lonely last weekend because the house feels empty without children's laughter. We invited my family for an impromptu potluck lunch. We scrounged up some pretty decent food despite the very short notice.

My mom, who's hypertensive, brought the most sinful food of them all, liempo, which the housekeepers fried up. My mom, a condo dweller also misses fried fish and had asked the housekeepers fry up some, too!

I had some chicken thighs in the freezer and baked them. My rosemary herb is also doing well in my garden and I added some fresh sprigs for an interesting taste.

My sister-in-law brought some grilled pork barbecue and grilled squid, which is one of my nephew's favorite food.

For dessert, I had some cream and graham cracker crumbs in my pantry and made a simple Summery Trifle using mangoes and strawberries which are in season now. Here's the recipe:

Summery Trifle

1 pack Graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 cups all purpose cream, chilled
1 can condensed milk, chilled
Strawberries, hulled and sliced
Fresh mango, cubed or balled with a melon baller

1. Mix together graham cracker crumbs and sugar, set aside.
2. In a separate bowl, preferably cold, whip together the cream and the condensed milk. Set aside.
3. To assemble: layer graham cracker crumb mixture, cream and then fruits. Repeat ending with cream
4. Chill for at least 3 hours before serving.

The Graham cracker crumbs can be replaced with broas, taisan or sponge cake, butter cake, sliced chocolate cake, brownies and whatever cake you may have. Just omit the sugar. I only had the graham cracker crumbs on hand so I used that, turned out great, despite being a bit messy when scooped up.

Summer is Here

The scorching heat outside is a surefire sign that summer has finally arrived. Summertime has always been associated with beaches, swimming, succulent fruits, ice cream and cool beverages.

When I was doing some marketing at the BF Palengke, my shrimp suki, offered me some live shrimps. I bought some and fried them immediately and had them for lunch with hubby. I paired them with some yellow watermelons and freshly squeezed dalandan juice (local oranges) with mint leaves from my herb garden. I have two kinds growing in my garden so I used both.

Here's the recipe for the Dalandan Juice

1/2 kilo freshly hand-squeezed dalandan (do not use a juicer, the pith is very bitter)
Simple syrup, powdered sugar or honey (to taste)
Cold Water
Ice Cubes
Mint Leaves

Just mix together.